By Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome, ETN Africa
Following earlier awards as Best Exhibitor from Africa in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010, Rwanda has this year once again reclaimed the top spot at the just-ended ITB 2014 to the delight of the Rwandan delegation, which exhibited in a joint pavilion together with partner countries Uganda and Kenya with the latter two also appearing in the top 5 choices of the judges for African exhibitors.
Tourism has remained on top of the economic performance scale in Rwanda for 2013 and is on course to do even better in the current year, when as one of the country’s key events the 10th Kwita Izina Gorilla Naming Festival will be held on the 21st of June this year in Kiningi, outside Musanze.
Rwanda’s delegation leader, the CEO of the Rwanda Development Board Ms. Valentine Rugwabiza, expressed her personal delight, attending the ITB for the first time, when she said:
“This recognition is important as it is evidence that the market is responding positively to our region. Being in the top 5 among 200 African exhibitors is proof that our region is a preferred destination on the continent. We will continue to work together to reap fruits from these new arrangements in the northern corridor,” making reference to the so called “Coalition of the Willing” within the East African Community, namely Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda, which in recent months have announced a number of joint major infrastructure projects to link the three countries closer together and integrate the respective economies.
Second place was claimed by previous winner Burundi, with Kenya claiming the third spot while Uganda still came a respectable 5th for the African continent, underscoring the attraction East Africa holds for visitors from around the world.
Meanwhile Rwanda back home has launched an intensified domestic tourism campaign, trying to bring more Rwandan’s to visit the three national parks of Akagera, Nyungwe Forest and Volcanoes (Gorilla National Park) but also the main cultural sites which RDB in recent years helped to restore and modernized like the National Museum in Huye, the King’s Palace in Nyanza and other key sites across the country.