Victor Okorafor of Empathy Manor Ltd has had a discussion with the Director General of the Rwanda Chamber of Tourism at the Private Sector Federation Frank Gisha Mugisha. The discussion is shared on their YouTube channel.
RCT was established in 2006, with a mandate of enhancing business opportunities through effective lobbying and advocacy for the tourism and hospitality industry in Rwanda. It is an umbrella of all other associations that are engaged in tourism and hospitality business. The Director General of the Rwanda Chamber of Tourism at the Private Sector Federation Frank Gisha Mugisha, Says member companies and associations of the RCT have a number of benefits that come with their affiliation.
“The benefits include advocacy where we act as the voice of all players in the tourism sector in relation to policies that do a favor or create a more enabling business environment. Also, the Rwanda Development Board, RDB, through the tourism office has done a lot to create a policy which facilitates investment in Rwanda. Here in Rwanda tourism is one of the biggest foreign exchange earners, contributing 10% of the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, [as per statistics for 2019] and also employing about 150,000 people mostly the youth,” says Frank.
He adds that whenever there is a policy that has been adopted by the government, the RCT review it with an ultimate purpose of harnessing it to ensure that it promotes vibrancy of tourism and hospitality sector other than stifling it.
Recently, RCT has initiated a number of programs to support members of the chamber to enable them recover from business shocks visited on them as results of COVID-19. Komeza Program is one such initiative. It was launched under MasterCard Foundation to help members recover from financial strain brought about by business hibernation and the associated loans. Another, “Hanga Ahazaza” one of the MasterCard Foundation’s programs aimed to empower youth and women but also to create jobs especially focusing on the tourism sectors.
Rwanda Chamber tourism creates relevant linkages to mobilize its members to apply to these grants and gives them technical assistance and guidance to apply to general grants that can qualify for the Komeza program.
“One of our key areas of focus is capacity building for our members. This is through identifying whatever missing in terms of skills, what is the gap and what could be done better to fill the gap,” he added.
He added that “We started a campaign of domestic tourism which now we are growing to regional and maybe later as various countries open their airspaces we can go also international. Someone who has been used to doing international marketing now it’s an opportunity to sit down and think of what he can do better t and even tap the potential with domestic and regional tourism.”
Victor went on to ask the basic guidelines of operations.
“One is to register your company to RDB and then go come to the chamber of tourism for orientation. In orientation is all about what, where, who can you network with to do your tourism business and join the Rwanda Association of tour operator,” said Frank.
There are several events organized by the tourism board. One of them is the Kivu Belt Festival is one of the events that happen out of Kigali. This brings together the conservationists. In the western part of the country, we have regions with tropical rainforests, hills, beautiful lakes, and Nyungwe national park (rich with Flora and Fauna).
“In Kivu Belt, there is always an event which we have been doing in connection with our partners to showcase what the region has in potential of attracting or promoting tourism. We have various community best tourism actors to showcase the products, packages, hotels around there which attracts people within the country, around neighboring countries, and also international.“
Post-COVID is still a big project for tourism. Starting from this month there is a business development program which will be stabled starting from this month to aiming at providing support to their members to stay strong and still resilient. This will be more of access to finance, reducing costs, grant proposal, business plan, and even reviewing or revisiting your input or output ratios to stay in business.
Frank says that people should visit Rwanda because it has many beautiful things that attract tourists such as magnificent hills stretching from south to east, mountainous gorillas, tropical rainforest, and many others.
Rwandan has empowered these sectors and various segments such as religious tourism which is being given a boost from the government. Talking of also sports tourism there is a cricket stadium, sports stadiums, and by next year we shall have one of the best gold stadium golf stadiums in the region.
Another segment that Rwanda has taken an advanced stage into excelling at is meeting or conference tourism. Since 2017, Kigali is considered ranked by the international conference association as number two, second from Cape Town to host conferences on the international events. We have Convention Center as a boost for international events, Kigali Arena for an international sporting event, and also Intare conference Arena. All those are venues for events with the capacity to host meetings of over three thousand people.
Above all happening in this hospitable and friendly culture from the Rwandan people, Kigali is regarded as one of the cleanest cities in Africa and over the world.
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