The Private Sector Federation (PSF) through its Tourism Chamber has secured US$300,000 (Rwf180.8m) grant from Trademark East Africa to help design an integrated approach that will patch-up and consolidate gains from the tourism sector.
The new approach is spearheaded by the Quality Standards Task Force, which comprises of Tourism Chamber, Rwanda Development Board, The presidential task force on Tourism and other stakeholders
Particularly, the three year project targets to bridge gaps in service delivery within the sector and help harness the recent hotel and restaurants rating that aims improving service delivery in the hospitality industry, which is a key driver of the tourism cluster.
The Chairman of the Tourism Chamber, Edwin Sabuhoro, told Business Times in an interview on Tuesday that there is a need for a holistic approach to address the current challenges such as poor customer care within the sector to increase its competitiveness in the region.
“What we want to look at is a problem solving- solution, finding approach without necessarily seeing one in isolation of the other,” he said, noting that such approach will help remove the prevailing poor
Although the tourism sector is Rwanda’s top foreign exchange revenue earner, industry players are struggling to improve service delivery after it was ranked last in the region.
Sabuhoro said that there is need deal with this problem by using the bottom-up approach through identifying gaps at micro level up to the business entity level.
Claudine Kayitesi, a waitress said told Business Times that: “It is not that we want to give poor services but the conditions we work in normally force us to lose morale… and this is why people think that it is poor customer care on our side.”
In a mystery shopping survey conducted by Business Times, many customer care staff complained of poor pay and lack of motivation from their employers.
In hotels, some waiters and waitresses complained cited failure to offer them food, long working hours, failure to be provided with transport means especially when they leave work late as some of the challenges.
Sabuhoro says; “I agree we have a problem as business owners but we have to look for a solution within ourselves in terms of training owners of these businesses that improved service delivery increases their turnovers.”
Bart Gasana, the Vice chairman Tourism Chamber, is optimistic that the project will also create more diversified products such as cultural and domestic tourism.
Provisional statistics show that tourism revenues hit US$183.2m by the end of the third quarter of 2011, beating Tea and coffee which fetched US$61m and US$73m respectively by end November last year.