The number of tourists and tourism business opportunities are set to increase in Rwanda and Tanzania thanks to the collaboration between Rwanda Tours and Travel Association (RTTA) and Tanzania Tour Operators Association.
The two private operators held a Business-to-Business networking event in Kigali to discuss the opportunities after visiting various tourist sites, such as Volcano National Park with mountain gorillas, kayaking and boat riding on Lake Kivu and canopy walkway in the Nyugwe Forest, as part of the products witnessed.
Carolyn Namatovu, the vice chairperson of Rwanda Tours and Travel Association (RTTA), said that the partnership aims at enhancing tourism businesses between the two countries.
“We were supported by GIZ and EAC to strengthen the cooperation. When tourists come to Africa, they do not visit only one country, they also visit other neighboring countries.
She said partnership will increase the number and length of stay of tourists visiting the two countries.
During the event, a digital Tourism B2B Trade Portal with a vision to link the operators in the tourism industry across East Africa was unveiled.
The portal was created with a target for integration and development of East Africa and engaging citizens of EAC partner states in the implementation of EAC common market protocol and showcasing integration experiences.
The portal will enable collaboration, communication, monetisation of services and facilitate new business opportunities in the EAC tourism industry.
The platform will enable operators in the two countries have their services promoted in EAC and key source markets with international operators and agents having access to info about their activities.
Under the portal, operators will be able to organise meetings, trade fairs as well as access e-learning portals for training and updates on product knowledge of EAC destinations.
Sirili Akko, the Chief Executive Officer of Tanzania Tour Operators Association, said that forging partnership with their counterparts in Rwanda will improve opportunities for the two parties.
“We are hopeful, it will be a fruitful partnership. Tourism is a new frontier to move African continent out of poverty because it is a key employer and a sector with very long value chain. East African countries, particularly Tanzania and Rwanda, have a very key synergy because we do not have the same products which mean there is complementarity of the products,” he said.
He said that conservation efforts by governments are yielding direct results that benefit tourism and tour operators.
“We have to keep our good contact with Rwanda Tours and Travel Association. As regional stakeholders, we can together forge meaningful partnerships going forward and sell products of both countries at once. Rwanda and Tanzania are high-end tourist destinations in the region with strong conservation policies.
“When tourists are in Tanzania, they think about the products that they do not get in Tanzania, they can get them from Rwanda, and vice versa. We want more tourists to stay in East Africa longer and spend more,” Akko said.
Ariella Kageruka, the Director General of Chamber of Tourism Rwanda’s Private Sector Federation, urged the operators in these two EAC countries to reinforce their network and exchange their experience about tourism business opportunities.
She added that the movement of people between Rwanda and other EAC countries has increased travels and generated more income.
By Michel Nkurunziza