Kigali, May 13th, 2014 – The tourism sector in Rwanda has continued to record impressive growth over the last 5 Years. Rwanda achieved growth of 12%, far above the global average of 3% to 5%. In order to accelerate this growth, a new strategy for the sector focusing on the area of meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE) has been developed and is being implemented.
Speaking at an event to introduce the MICE strategy and the Rwanda Convention Bureau (RCB), the RDB’s Head of Department for Tourism and Conservation Ambassador Yamina Karitanyi said that; “the economic potential of the MICE sector for Rwanda is immense. Total revenues based on MICE tourism in 2013 were US$49m. This is projected to triple to US$ 150m in 2015, which is 16% of all national export earnings and 34% of the overall tourism receipts.”
While leisure tourism remains a vital part of the national tourism strategy, business tourists have been shown to spend up to three times more than leisure visitors. Rwanda’s share in the international meetings, incentives, conferences and events industry is presently minimal. International Conference and Congress Association’s (ICCA) latest research ranks Rwanda as 21st in Africa. The Rwanda Convention Bureau is a destination marketing arm whose sales and marketing plan is destined to see Rwanda enter Africa’s top 10 by the year 2016. With this growth in MICE tourism , Tour Operators, Hotels, Restaurants, Professional Conference Organisers (PCO’s) and Event Managers, - who form part of the nationwide tourism value chain, will be required to create enhance their product offering to service delegate demands.
Tremendous efforts have been exerted on availing infrastructure and investment in new international meeting, conferencing and accommodation products, the iconic Kigali Convention Centre and the development of transport links through Kigali International Airport. In addition, Bugesera International Airport, a new World Class airport is planned which will provide extra capacity for passenger transport and cargo freight.
In addition, Rwanda offers soft infrastructure such as biodiversity, city management, peace building and reconciliation as well as gender and health making it a role model for the respective themes.
The National MICE strategy is in line with diversifying the current tourism product offering while complimenting existing gorilla tourism, eco-tourism, cultural and community based tourism that are the mainstays of Rwanda’s economy. The Rwanda Convention Bureau has a stand and will be introduced to the global meetings and incentives marketplace at next week’s IMEX International Meetings Exhibition tradeshow in Frankfurt as Africa’s newest Convention Bureau.
KIGALI, The Rwanda Development Board is calling for Government protection of the Grey Crowned Crane (known as Imisambi in Kinyarwanda) as a shocking decline of Grey Crowned Cranes numbers has been reported in Rwanda.
Human activities are the main factors leading to the decline of the population of Grey Crowned Cranes with these activities restricting the breeding success. Additionally, Grey Crowned Crane habitat has been lost or degraded due to the rapid increase in the human population.
Most importantly, the Grey Crowned Cranes are threatened by their removal from the wild. The practice of illegal removal from the wild and domesticating Grey Crowned Cranes is rampant throughout Rwanda and if not stopped, the species may disappear in the wild.
Grey Crowned Cranes are found as pets at some hotels, households, exported by illegal wildlife traders, and have a role in traditional medicine and local cultural beliefs.
An awareness campaign to discourage the collection of Grey Crowned Cranes from the wild is ongoing. The Rwanda Development Board and its stakeholders would also like to let the general public know that existing legislation stipulated in the organic law N° 04/2005 of 08/04/2005., penal code and ministerial orders No.007/2008 of 15/08/2008 will be applied to whoever keeps Grey Crowned Cranes in captivity illegally, collects them or their eggs from the wild.
For those who already own Grey Crowned Cranes and want to help these birds to get back to their natural habitat, please contact us on any of the numbers or e-mails below".
Kinigi, 1 July 2014: Rwandans today celebrated the birth of 18 baby gorillas at the 10th anniversary of Kwita Izina, the annual gorilla naming ceremony. The event was held at the foothills of the Virunga Mountains in Kinigi, Northern Rwanda, and brought together more than 40,000 residents of Musanze District and visitors from all over the world. This year’s Kwita Izina was held under the theme: “A Decade: Conserving-Empowering-Growing.”
The CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, Ambassador Valentine Rugwabiza said:
“We celebrate, for the tenth time, the growth of the gorilla family by naming 18 baby gorillas born over the last year, bringing the total population of the endangered species to over 600 in the Virunga Transboundary Parks.”
Ambassador Rugwabiza added that the increase in mountain gorilla numbers is thanks to the tireless collaborative efforts of the Government of Rwanda, the local communities neighbouring the park and conservation partners.
“We acknowledge the role of local communities in the sustained conservation of the Volcanoes National Park, specifically the protection of the gorillas and their habitat. We believe that in the empowerment of our local communities, we also gain sustainable tourism development,” Ambassador Rugwabiza said.
The 10th Kwita Izina was marked by a series of activities ranging from conservation, business, cultural and entertainment that led up to the big day. These included the launch of Basumba Primary School in Bigogwe, Nyabihu District. The school of six classrooms was built with funds from the Shared Revenue Scheme which gives 5% of tourism profits from the national park back to the communities surrounding the gorilla habitat.
Over 100 regional and international tour operators and media came to experience Rwanda and took part in business to business meetings organised with RwandAir. These meetings led to business partnerships with local tour operators. In addition, Kwita Izina guests joined in Global Umuganda (community work) in Nyamata. They also participated in the Igitaramo, a community celebration with residents in Kinigi, Musanze at which local artist Jay Polly performed.
Kwita Izina is inspired by the ancient Rwandan tradition of naming babies soon after they are born. The ceremony has transformed from being a local event in 2005 to becoming an international gorilla conservation event that also promotes tourism. Early this year, Kwita Izina won second prize in the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance. In the nine years since the event was established, 161 gorillas have been named in a celebration of nature and the communities who protect the majestic mountain gorilla.
This year’s Kwita Izina has attracted over 470 international guests from countries including Kenya, Nigeria, China, Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia, Russia, Japan, South Sudan, South Africa, Gabon, Ghana, among others.
List of designated 2014 gorilla namers:
- Rt. Honourable Pierre Damien Habumuremyi- Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda
- H.E Leoni Cuelenaere - Ambassador of Netherlands to Rwanda
- Mr. Omar Samra –Tour operator representing Egypt and the Middle East
- General Mushyo Kamanzi - Army Chief of Staff
- Mr. Charles Onyango Obbo – Editor, Mail and Guardian AFRICA
- Amb. Tegla Loroupe - Kenyan Athlete and Peace Ambassador
- Mr. Ikechi Uko - Publisher, ATQ Publisher- Nigeria
- Ms. Uwamahoro Agnes - Local Community President of COPAV Mararo, Nyangye Sector
- John Sempebwa – Deputy CEO United Tourism Board, Uganda
- H.E Donald W. Koran - Ambassador of the United States of America to Rwanda
- Mr. John Mirenge - Chief Executive Officer RwandAir
- Mr. Ibrahim Mohamed – Principal Secretary for Commerce, Tourism and East African Affairs, Kenya
- Ms. Lisa Karanja – Senior Director Business Competitiveness, Trade Mark
- Hon. Barnaba Marial Benjamin – Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, South Sudan
- Mr. Bigirimana Francois –Volcanoes National Park Guide, Rwanda Development Board
- Dr. Adam Woo – Chief Operating Officer, Chinese Business Network
- Ms. Keiko Mori – Japanese Friends
- Mr. Fidel Nizeyimana- Tracker, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda Development Board
Over the last decade, leisure and adventure tourism have risen dramatically in Rwanda thanks to the many and varied tourism experiences on offer. Tourism continued to remain at the top of the country’s foreign exchange earners and has retained a share of international business. In 2013, the total revenue collected from the sector was US$293 million. It is expected to reach US $860 million by 2017.
The opportunities for Rwanda to grow its tourism offering are immense, from hosting meetings and conferences, tapping into religious and cultural experiences, taking advantage of its eco and national parks and expanding water and leisure sports.
With World Tourism Day being marked globally under the theme Tourism and Community Development, the Rwanda Development Board’s Head of Tourism and Conservation Amb. Yamina Karitanyi said: “The occasion is a chance to reflect on how Rwanda is investing in facilities to meet the growing demand, especially for meetings and conferences.” She added that Rwanda was on course in implementing its National Tourism Master Plan designed to secure the sector’s contribution to the economy in line with Vision 2020: “Part of the plan is to successfully diversify tourism experiences beyond gorillas.”
This is why Rwanda has invested in the convention bureau and other infrastructure and is seeking investors for spa and golf resort hotels along Lake Kivu and a cable car system on the slopes of the Volcanoes National Park. In addition, a new cultural village will be set up in Kigali showcasing the spectrum of the nation’s heritage in one setting.
“We are making progress with initiatives aimed at meeting the growing tourism demand in Rwanda. Our new conference facility, the Kigali Convention Center, which will be the largest in East and Central Africa, is nearing completion and should be open soon,” she said.
Giving back to communities is another key element of Rwanda’s tourism and conservation strategy. From 2005 to today, Rwf1.962 billion has been disbursed to fund 360 community projects across the country. These projects include schools and hospitals around the parks and support for community owned projects. Eight community cooperatives with a total of more than 400 people are employed in maintaining and preserving tourist facilities in the national parks.
Building community capacity is another aspect at the top of Rwanda’s tourism agenda. In collaboration with the Ministry of Sports and Culture and the Rwanda National Commission for UNESCO, all district officers in charge of youth, culture and sports have been trained on identifying and preserving cultural attractions. The Rwanda Development Board has trained 200 young people from different Tourism Destination Management Areas on tourism and entrepreneurship skills.
In Rwanda’s EDPRS II, the target is to grow tourism revenues by 25% annually. In order to achieve this, RDB will diversify tourism experiences, develop and expand the needed infrastructure and focus on service delivery and capacity building to enable the sector to continue to grow and thrive. Targeted marketing strategies will also ensure Rwanda’s growth in tourism is sustained.
Amb. Karitanyi said that the projects were a clear demonstration of the extent that Rwanda is going to in gearing up for the surge in tourism demand. “We know that recent innovations such as the single East Africa tourist Visa will continue to be a significant factor in our overall tourism sector growth,” she said. The single 90 – day visa costs $100 and gives a tourist access to three countries- Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.