Tourism and hospitality players are optimistic that the sector will continue to grow in the New Year as the country shakes off Covid-19 impact.
Even before the year comes to a close, the country has already surpassed the number of events and conferences it hosted last year, many of which were high-profile global meetings.
Up to 87 conferences have been hosted in the country’s different MICE amenities, one of them being the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (Chogm).
Besides Chogm, which was attended by 4,000 delegates, other big international events like the International Telecommunication Union General Assembly, the Mobile World Congress, the international conference on public health and Africa protected Areas conference.
Last year, the country hosted 86 conferences that attracted 18,400 foreign delegates and generated up to $38.5 in revenues, but the government expects to far exceed these numbers this year, with growth even expected to be much higher in 2023.
Nelly Mukazayire, chief executive of Rwanda Convention Bureau, said the country has set its eyes on full recovery of the MICE sector from the vestiges of the pandemic, looking at hosting a bigger number of delegates who will stay longer in the country.
Although actual numbers of total delegates and revenues generated in 2022 are yet to be released, there are signs that revenues generated from MICE will even exceed pre-pandemic numbers.
Besides being a stand-alone product, the growth of sports tourism has added value to the existing product. For instance, the Kigali Golf Resort & Villas and other sports amenities like the BK arena, the Gahanga cricket stadium have added value to the country’s tourism.
Last year, sports tourism alone generated over $6 million, accounting for 13 percent of the total generated revenues earned from the MICE sector.
Ariella Kageruka, head of Tourism and Conservation at Rwanda Development Board (RDB) said over 80 percent of businesses in the tourism sector have recovered following the ease of the Covid-19 pandemic-which slumped sector revenues from $498 million in 2019 to $131 million in 2020.
The Rwanda Tourism Board announced that revenues from gorilla trekking grew by 25 percent this year where by August the country had collected up to $82million from gorilla