In the face of the global pandemic and the need to position the East Africa as choice tourism destination, the Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA), Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Rwanda Chamber of Tourism (RCT) and the East African Tourism Platform (EATP) have signed a partnership that will see the development of business and leisure travel in the East African Community.
As part of the agreement, the partners will collaborate on addressing challenges faced in the region’s travel industry and explore a range of solutions and initiatives that can help transform businesses in the sector, market the region’s tourism offerings to new audiences and promote regional travel.
The partnership will see RDB, RCT and KATA cooperate to implement Rwanda’s and Kenya’s tourism marketing and promotional programmes by conducting joint-marketing activities that will drive visitors to the countries’ attractions and experiences.
The bodies will also organise familiarization trips and educational webinars to promote regional travel, thereby creating increased opportunities for private sector actors in the travel industry.
Other activities agreed upon in the agreement include;
To provide opportunities for exchanging knowledge, expertise and best practices on travel
To promote the exchange of familiarisation visits between Kenya and Rwanda
To encourage tourists flows between Kenya and Rwanda
To share the countries’ respective calendar of events for stakeholders information and attendance
To engage other African regional blocks through the new Africa Continental Free Trade Area which was launched on 1 January, 2021
The partnership was announced in the presence of Amb. Richard Masozera Rwanda’s Ambassador to Kenya, Ms. Agnes Mucuha, the Chief Executive Officer for KATA, Fred Odek, the EATP Chairman and Robert Okumu the RwandAir Country Manager, Kenya.
Commenting on the partnership, Clare Akamanzi, Chief Executive Officer, Rwanda Development Board said: “We are very excited about this cooperation and look forward to working more closely across the board with all the players in the travel and tourism industry as we look to increase tourism revenues and create more jobs within the sector. Kenya and Rwanda are already one of the most popular destinations for the growing regional tourism market and we look forward to having more people visit and taste the unique offerings in these destinations.”
Aimable Rutagarama, Chaiman of the Rwanda Chamber of Tourism said: “Rwanda and Kenya are adored by local and foreign visitors alike and this increased cooperation between the two countries will see an uptick in the number of travellers interested in visiting both countries. Today’s strategic partnership lays strong foundations to tap the potential of Kenya and Rwanda as a promising traveller destination for the regional and international market.”
Agnes Mucuha, Chief Executive, Kenya Association of Travel Agents said: “We are honoured to partner with the Rwanda Development Board, Rwanda Chamber of Tourism, and the East Africa Tourism Platform as this collaboration will allow for greater sharing of ideas, resources, and expertise. This partnership places Rwanda and KATA on the path to becoming a regional and continental lead in creating safe travel experiences, yet meet the needs of travellers.”
Fred Odek, Chairperson of the East Africa Tourism Platform said: “This partnership will shape the course of regional tourism. This is the best time for the region to come together to grow its tourism and the associated economic gains for its industry players.”
Robert Okumu, RwandAir’s Country Manager for Kenya said:“RwandAir (WB) will be the Title Sponsor for the Air Tickets during the familiarization trips to Rwanda facilitating the much-needed product knowledge and experience.”
Mr Okumu said this while noting that an average of 1,000 passengers travels from Nairobi to Kigali monthly for business and leisure.
In closing, Amb. Richard Masozera noted:“The signing of these agreements between RDB, RCT, KATA and EATP represents a visible result of the thriving Kenya-Rwanda relationship. The partnership is also in line with our efforts to transform and build new travel and tourism industry capabilities. As we chart a new path forward for the travel sector, it is crucial to focus on growing local travel for us to help the industry to rebound.”
Tourism is a vital aspect of Kenya-Rwanda bilateral cooperation. Kenya is one of the most popular destinations in Africa for Rwandan visitors and continues to attract more visitors every year. Equally, Kenyans have been increasingly choosing Rwanda as their regional destination of choice with the City of Kigali and other in-country destinations on a list of places to visit by Kenyans.