Tourism sector players upbeat over re-opening of airports

Monday July 13 2020

Kigali International Airport will re-open for

Kigali International Airport will re-open for commercial flights on August 1. Photo | Cyril Ndegeya  

MOSES K. GAHIGI
By MOSES K. GAHIGI
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Businesses operating in tourism sector have welcomed re-opening of airports and resumption of international flights from August 1.

Andrew Gatera runs a tour and travel company that largely targets tourists from China and Europe. He says since the Covid19 outbreak his company has lost up Rwf50 million.

“Re-opening of airport for commercial flights is a positive development, but we still don’t expect a lot this year because we can’t be sure that clients will re-plan their trips and come,” he noted.

“If this could lead to reinstatement of some of the cancelled bookings maybe the year would be saved, but this is not happening,” Mr Gatera added.

He said tourism cycle needs at least five months of booking in advance, noting that so far no bookings have been done since the re-opening of the airport was announced.

Mr Gatera noted that while Rwanda has been listed as one of the safest countries to travel to during this period, opportunities may only be available next year. "A few tourists who have been holed up in their houses for months are likely to visit at the end of the year, but these will be negligible to generate any significant returns," he said.

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Ministry of Instructure stated airports will adhere to guidelines issued by Health Ministry and recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organisation to guarantee safety and health of passengers.

All passengers including those in transit will be required to show proof of the negative result from a Covid-19 test, taken within 72 hours before arrival from a certified laboratory.

Passengers entering Rwanda will also have to receive a second test and stay in designated hotels at their own cost before the result is delivered.

The disruptions brought by the pandemic has forced players in the East African region tourism sector to go back to the drawing board, and focuss more on domesticl tourism.

They observed that whatever happens, from the look of things, the sector will rely more on local tourists especially in the short term.

“The first set of tourists we are going to see after Covid19 will be domestic, creating an enabling environment for local tourists will be very paramount post-Covid19” said said Waturi Matu, senior director of business competitiveness at Trade Mark East Africa.

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