10 May 2018

Africa: Rwanda Ranked Among Top Conference Destinations

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Photo: Timothy Kisambira/The New Times
Kigali Convention Center.

Rwanda has been ranked by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) among Africa's most popular conference and events destinations on the continent.

The body ranked Rwanda, and specifically Kigali, third continentally, for capacity to accommodate international meetings and events, behind Cape Town of South Africa, and Casablanca of Morocco.

This shows the efforts embarked on by the Government to market the country as a Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) destination are paying off.

ICCA represents the world's leading suppliers in handling, transporting and accommodating international meetings and events.

The ranking, which was announced on May 7, is based on the number of association meetings taking place regularly, rotating between at least three different countries and with at least 50 participants.

The association considered high-level conferences such as Africa Organization for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC), Board Meeting of the Global Fund (BMGF), Annual Tourism Conference of the Africa Travel Association (ATA), and Annual General Assembly of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) among others.

Rwanda is currently hosting over 4,000 delegates attending the Transform Africa Summit 2018.

Commenting on the rankings, the Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Convention Bureau, Denise Omany said that the ranking was proof that the Government's MICE strategy was creating value.

"Rwanda recorded 28,308 delegates in 2017, up from 23,804 in 2016. Tourism is the country's largest foreign exchange earner and MICE is playing an important role in its growth, bringing in 15 per cent of all tourism revenue. MICE tourism contributed $42 million in 2017. We aim to increase it to $74 million this year," Omany said.

She added that, going forward, they were keen on maintaining the position as well as ensure value for private sector players in the sector.

"With the support of the Government, as well as the private sector, Rwanda has been able to establish itself as a safe, secure MICE destination of choice due to the presence of world-class MICE venues, accommodation facilities, connectivity options and ease of service due to RCB support," she added.

Among the drivers for this initiative include improved visa regimes, safety, security, and investment in hospitality infrastructure.

The national carrier, RwandAir, is currently serving multiple destinations, a move that has considerably improved accessibility to the country.

A number of high-level summits are set to be hosted in Kigali this year including the FIFA Council Meeting, while last month, Rwanda was chosen to host the 2020 edition of the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting (CHOGM).

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