19 September 2017

Rwanda: New Initiative to Support Women in Tourism Business

More than 30 business women in tourism and hospitality were tipped on new skills to become profitable and competitive.

The training conducted under the flagship of the International Trade Centre (ITC) seeks to boost skills of the women in the tourism industry to be able to enhance service delivery.

The project code named "East Africa: Empowering Women in Trade" seeks to link women entrepreneurs to the international market, according to Diane Sayinzoga, the Head of SEZs and Export at Rwanda Development Board.

It also aims at enabling women entrepreneurs working in selected sectors in East Africa to trade by increasing the value of their international business transactions, thus contributing to the goal of raising incomes, and creating jobs along the value chain.

The project is an opportunity for women to meet with international counterparts, share knowledge and expertise on how to identify target markets, prepare for promotional events and how to conduct effective contract negotiations.

"This initiative is beneficial to Rwanda's tourism industry and our stakeholders as we seek to expand and transform our tourism market into the ultimate leisure and MICE destination. The project is therefore quite timely in terms of supporting women entrepreneurs especially those in the tourism industry, Sayinzoga, told Business Times.

Carol Namatovu, the Vice Chairperson Rwanda Tours and Travel Association, said there is need to promote gender equality within the tourism industry to spur growth.

"The project is therefore a fundamental pillar in terms of equipping and facilitating the women to tap into the high- end market, whose expectations and needs are equally high," she noted.

The idea is to connect more than 5000 women to global markets by 2020, she added.

In Rwanda, tourism contributes to 4.6% to GDP and 30% of the country's exports.

And in 2016 alone tourism accounted for $404 million in forex exchange. The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has already projected that the tourism sector will fetch about $444 million (about Rwf370 billion) in 2017, up from $404 million last year.

The increase in revenue is largely due to continued tourism promotion efforts as well as the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Events and Exhibitions (MICE) strategy.

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