The tourism sector has experienced dynamic growth and continued expansion particularly in African countries. Cross border travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes has become one of the fastest growing economic activities.
Tourism is no longer viewed as a seasonal event but rather a whole year round activity because it has incorporated the business aspect in its sagacity. Many people who travel nowadays are no longer doing so for the sole purpose of leisure.
Travel has become part of learning, networking and discovering new opportunities for doing business. Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events (MICE) have firmly placed itself at the centre of tourism as one of the key drivers of the tourism sector’s development and an important generator of income, employment and investment.
Taking stoke of what have recently transpired this year, Rwanda has hosted a number of tourists, thanks to the MICE activities. InMay 7 – 9, this year, Rwanda hosted Aviation Stakeholders Convention, an annual African Airlines Association (AFRAA) to spotlight the development of the aviation industry in Africa.
Over 400 representatives from major aviation organizations, including African airlines, civil aviation authorities, airports, and aircraft/engine manufacturers attended the event that was held at the Kigali Serena Hotel.
During the month of May 11 – 13, Rwanda also hosted Economic Forum on Africa which was the biggest global event and was attended by over 3,000 high profile delegates, influential political leaders and captains of industry delegates mulling over the continent’s development trajectory. The event was held at the Kigali Conference and Exhibition Center.
In June 13 – 19, we had 7th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW) organized by the Forum for Agriculture Research in Africa (FARA) and it normally takes place after every three years. The event spotlights the importance of science and technology in the agricultural industry. This event hosted about 1,500 stakeholders in African agricultural science, technology, and innovation.
In July we also hosted 2,000 delegates from across Africa to attend the African Union Summit. For the first time, African presidents who attended the summit used African passports, which were introduced by the African Union to promote solidarity and unrestricted movement across the continent.
In September 5 – 6 the same year, the Government of Rwanda in partnership with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) organized a Global Africa Investment Summit in which more than 2,000 delegates attended including entrepreneurs, company representatives, and investors, who converged in Kigali to discuss the advancement of regional trade and investment in Africa.
The summit provided a platform for African governments and business leaders to present projects to regional and international investors.
Early this October 4 – 5, wrapped up some of the main events for this year where at least 700 delegates, including hotel investors, government officials, business people, and hotel operators attended the Africa Hotel Investment Forum held at the Radisson Blu Hotel and the Kigali Convention Center.
As we enter the festive season, it is important to continue with the same spirit so that we can promote local tourism by encouraging domestic travel in Rwanda. Domestic tourism provides critical support to tourism operators in several areas of industry performance. A vibrant domestic tourism industry in Rwanda can generate visitor spending in slower shoulder and off season months.
Take one weekend and tour a place that you have never been to. This will boost our social fabric, promote small upcoming businesses, facilitate the generation of new business ideas and refresh our brains from routine work that we always get ourselves into passing day.
We are privileged to have good weather throughout the year, except for the last fairly warm months, and breath-taking destinations. However, going by the statistics, it indicates that only 20% of Rwandans have contributed to tourism revenues in the recent past.
Let us have more locals moving around this beautiful nation to visit the countless destinations the country is blessed with. I am sure we would not miss to learn some of the many things we might not have known about gorillas, national parks, lakes, national museums and many hidden fortunes of the Remarkable Rwanda!
All this would not have been possible, as the writer John Berger observes, if the architecture of everyday life – the social, political and physical infrastructure had not been rebuilt from the ground up!