Kigali has been ranked the second most popular destination in Africa for international meetings and events by International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). Cape Town in South Africa is ranked first in Africa.
Last year, Kigali was ranked third behind Cape Town and Marrakesh in Morocco.
ICCA represents the world's leading suppliers in handling, transporting and accommodating international meetings and events.
The rankings, which were released by the ICCA, are based on the number of association meetings taking place regularly (annually, biannually), rotating between at least three different countries and with at least 50 participants.
Last year, Kigali hosted 26 association meetings. The association meetings organised by Rwanda included several high-level conferences such the 4th Gender Summit that was held in March, the Mo Ibrahim Governance Weekend, the GSMA Mobile 360 Series Africa, the meeting of the African Society of Human Genetics, the Africa Smart Grid Forum, and the International Conference on Family Planning.
Rwanda is currently hosting over 4,000 delegates who are attending the Transform Africa Summit 2019, as well as the Africa Public Relations Association Annual General Meeting.
Reacting to the new ICCA rankings, the Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Convention Bureau, Nelly Mukazayire said the country is aiming at even better rankings.
"We believe that identifying and working with our local associations will help Rwanda perform better in ICCA rankings in the years to come. Rwanda recorded 38,745 delegates in 2018, up from 28,308 delegates in 2017. Tourism is the country's largest foreign exchange earner and MICE is playing a significant role in its growth, bringing in 20 per cent of all tourism revenues. MICE tourism contributed $56 million in 2018, and this year, we intend to increase it to $88 million," Mukazayire said.
Commenting on the ICCA report, the Rwanda Development Board deputy chief executive Emmanuel Hategeka said that the ranking is proof that Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) strategy is generating value to Rwanda.
"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," he said.
Rwanda is a preferred MICE destination due to its simplified visa regime that allows citizens of any country in the world to get a visa on arrival in addition to its easy accessibility due to several flight options offering connectivity to Kigali and the rest of Africa, including through the national carrier Rwandair.
The presence of range of world-class venues such as the Kigali Convention Centre, the Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village, and Intare Conference Arena, as well as soon-to-be opened Kigali Arena are key drivers of MICE tourism in Kigali.