However, the country “vowed to not let the past define their future” as it is now ranked the premium destination for world travel.
Rwanda has become the first African country to host the prestigious 23rd Global summit of World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC), which commenced on 1st November, 2023 and will end on 3rd, November, 2023.
During the opening day, the president and CEO WTTC, Julia Simpson commended Rwanda’s efforts to transformation and development.
“Ten years ago, Rwanda didn’t even rank in the top 150 countries with the ease of doing business; today, it’s in the top 20,” she remarked.
Simpson also commended Rwanda’s efforts in conserving mountain gorillas that were on the verge of extinction due to poaching and deforestation.
According to Simpson , the population of mountain gorillas around the world has grown from 200 in 1990’s, to 1600 to date, thanks to Rwanda’s implementation of a financial premium on the coexistence of the gorillas with man.
Additionally, the CEO WTTC acknowledged Kagame’s role in promoting gender equality in the country terming the president a ‘man of his word’.
“Here it’s not just talk, the Rwandan parliament has the largest percentage of women in the world,” she exclaimed, stressing the role women play in the social and economic development of the country.
The WTTC summit intends to develop the economy of the African continent by boosting the tourism and travel sector that, according to Simpson, has doubled in the past two decades, and has potential to thrive more in the next decade.
“Eighty four million international visitors added 196 billion dollars to Africa’s bottom line, which is 7% of the continent’s economy. The focus in the next ten years is to grow the sector by 5.1% annually, twice as fast as the general economy,” she explained.
In agreement with the CEO’s remarks, the WTTC chair , Arnold Donald, sent a sounding message to the world stating that “the heart of tourism is strongly in Africa” after the continent’s tourism investments “rose to a much stronger rate than the Global average,” despite financial challenges and COVID-19 pandemic.
For the past 33 years, WTTC has been a strong advocate for the positive impact tourism and travel has on the world. However, according to Simpson, the sector faces a major challenge of visa regimes especially in Africa.
“With the right vision, tourism and travel could increase Africa’s GDP by 50 billion dollars by 2033 and create 6 million more jobs,” said Simpson.
In his speech, president Paul Kagame announced that “any African is free to get on a plane at anytime and come to Rwanda without paying anything” emphasising the need to not forget the continental market.