Last week from 20th - 22nd May 2014, the Rwanda Development Board introduced the Rwanda MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) tourism at IMEX (International Meetings Exhibition) in Frankfurt Germany 2014.
The introduction follows the launch of Rwanda’s MICE tourism and the Rwanda Convention Bureau to stakeholders at National level two weeks ago. IMEX is the largest trade show on the global calendar for incentive travel, meetings and events where destinations, companies /organizations meet to showcase their MICE product and transact business. IMEX 2014 attracted around 9,000 hosted buyers and over 3,500 exhibitors from all over the world; besides Rwanda, other African countries participating at the event included Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Africa, Morocco and Egypt.
Speaking at the IMEX, Mr. Murangwa Frank who is in charge of MICE at RDB said, “The launch created a great platform for Rwanda to be showcased at the international level as an emerging MICE destination. Hundreds of visitors visited our stand and potential business to the value of almost US$ 6 million was transacted”.
Rwanda’s international launch as a MICE destination coincided with the African Development Bank Annual Summit that was held in Kigali from 19th - 23rd May 2014. With over 3,000 delegates events such as this continue to boost Rwanda’s positioning as an international conference hub. Mr. Rick Taylor, contracted by RDB to streamline MICE strategy, stresses that Rwanda is on the right path for the development of the MICE sector and with the newly established Rwanda Convention Bureau as the conduit office, Rwanda is ready to receive and host regional and international events. Rwanda is the second country in Africa to establish a Convention Bureau after South Africa.
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 2017, 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. The latest International Conference and Congress Association’s (ICCA) research ranks Rwanda as 21st in hosting global association meetings in Africa. The Rwanda Convention Bureau is a Destination Marketing Organisation with a sales and marketing objective to see Rwanda enter Africa’s top 10 by the year 2016. With this growth in MICE tourism, Tour Operators, hotels, restaurants, Professional Conference Organizers (PCO’s) and Event Managers, who form part of the nationwide tourism value chain, will be required to 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. These include the iconic Kigali Convention Centre, a number of five star business hotels (Kigali Radisson Blu, Kigali Marriott, Park Inn, Kempinski and Protea amongst others), the development of transport links through Kigali International Airport as well as the expansion of RwandAir. In addition the upgrading of Kigali International Airport increases passenger capacity to 1,500,000 per annum.
Furthermore, Rwanda offers soft infrastructure such as biodiversity, city management, peace building and reconciliation as well as gender and health initiatives, making it a role model for the respective themes.
The National MICE strategy is in line with diversifying the current tourism product offering while complementing existing gorilla tourism, eco-tourism, cultural and community based tourism products that are the mainstays of Rwanda’s economy.