Picture: Ariella Kageruka, Head of Conservation & Tourism -RDB
The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) is eagerly making efforts to successfully restart and sustain tourism despite disruptions caused by the COVID -19 pandemic. In June 2020, Rwanda began to put measures in place to facilitate the safe restart of tourism.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruptions in the global economy. By the end of the first quarter of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had brought international travel to an abrupt halt and significantly impacted the tourism industry.
Ariella Kageruka, Head of Conservation & Tourism at the Rwanda Development Board said “in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to enhance our safety guidelines, train stakeholders to make sure we had the protocols that really make the industry safe for the operators and customers we serve”.
These efforts were recognized with the issuance of a safety stamp by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). Rwanda opened its international airport to commercial flights in August 2020 and was followed with the launch of a campaign to promote domestic, regional and continental tourism including a familiarization tour for a delegation from Ghana made up of tour operators, government agencies, investors, and media.
“this fam trip for the Ghanaians coming to Rwanda is also in the same spirit of restarting tourism, enhancing our cooperation with our Ghanaian tourism brothers and sisters so that we can continue to work together as we promote mainly continental tourism”. Ariella Kageruka, Head of Conservation & Tourism at the Rwanda Development Board further explained, “as you saw with COVID-19, we know international tourism is not going to go back to the levels we had in 2019 but there are opportunities to tap into at the regional and continental levels.”
Rwanda going forward is positioning itself as a responsible destination based on the current trends withs key messaging emphasizing the need for people who choose to travel at this time to choose to spend or consume responsibly in tourism. The country is promoting high-end tourism targeting low volumes of travelers but yields high value so they can safeguard the environment, invest back into the environment and achieve higher margins that also allow it to uplift the livelihoods of the communities that live adjacent to those key areas of tourism. The country continues to also position itself as a preferred MICE destination on the continent.
With a national airline that serves over 29 destinations, the majority being on the continent, and working with partners in other countries, the focus is to be practical and make travel seamless on the continent.
“As Rwanda diversifies market segments including adding new, more aggressively than ever before, the continent, with incentives and packages, it will definitely reshape travel on the continent by taking advantage of the willingness of African countries to work together that will make offerings available, accessible and enjoyable” said Ariella Kageruka, Head of Conservation & Tourism at the Rwanda Development Board adding that “as people reconnect with travel, people are looking to reconnect with their inner-self and Rwanda is very well positioned to offer that”.