Rwanda Resumes Conference Tourism

Rwanda Convention Bureau (RCB) on Wednesday, July 1st announced reopening of hosting meetings and conferences, as the country tries to gradually revive tourism, its biggest foreign exchange stream.

While the coronavirus suffocated global tourism for the last four months, Rwanda is reanimating the sector and displaying a sense of efficacy in curbing the virus spread.

In light with the move, RCB has directed event organisers and revenue owners to establish measures to prevent infections. The guidelines intend to strengthen existing systems in the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) industry to ensure safety of delegates.

These guidelines include, among others, screening of all event participants, social distancing, use of protective gears, and disinfection setups.

The agency added that the measures will be applied to "events of any size and nature."

MICE earned Rwanda second position among Africa's most popular MICE destinations.

In 2019, the niche generated $56 million (about Rwf53 billion), equivalent to 20 percent of all tourism revenues.

However, the industry is expected to plunge due to the pandemic. For instance, the country had already lost $10 million (Rwf 9.5 billion) or 10 percent of estimated revenues in 2020 as twenty association meetings previously scheduled between March and April were halted.

Also, the highly anticipated Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that was scheduled to take place in Kigali in June was postponed. The high-level conference was expected to attract about 10,000 delegates including 52 heads of states.

This summit was estimated to generate over $700 million, or nearly a double of Rwanda's annual tourism revenues, from trade deals. The country had forecasted up to $80 million from delegates' expenditure.

Data provided by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) show that revenues from foreign visitors dropped by 35 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year.

"Now more than ever do we as a destination need to position ourselves to support the recovery of the sector, by applying our collective efforts to align with trends and measures that support us all during these challenging times," said Nelly Mukazayire, CEO of Rwanda Convention Bureau.

Despite the impact of Covid-19, Rwanda continues to establish itself as a safe, secure MICE destination, due to an enabling environment, investment in world-class venues, ease of connectivity and open visa policy among others.

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