The Head of State made these remarks on November 2, 2023, during the opening ceremony of the 23rd Global Summit of the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC) held in Kigali.
Kagame emphasized that Rwanda has removed visa restrictions for African countries and other nations to encourage tourism within the African continent, ensuring free movement for all Africans into Rwanda without any visa fees.
“Any African can get on a plane and come to Rwanda anytime they want without paying anything,” he remarked, stressing the need to not lose sight of the continental market.
Kagame also acknowledged the global recovery of the travel and tourism industry while urging the implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market to ease travel within and to Africa.
This WTTC Global Summit is a milestone event, being held in Africa and specifically in Rwanda for the first time since its inception, spanning from November 1 to November 3, 2023, at the Kigali Convention Centre.
This summit holds particular significance for Rwanda, considering its dark history that once portrayed the nation as a ’horror’ destination.
“We vowed not to let the past define us, this meant building a nation where all Rwandans would live in peace and dignity, a Rwanda that everyone in the world would travel to and indeed we have lived beyond that,” stated Kagame.
Furthermore, the WTTC Global Summit provides an excellent opportunity for the East African Community, as tourists are likely to explore neighboring countries such as Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, or Burundi, benefiting the continent as a whole.
According to Kagame, Rwanda has envisioned tourism as a vital driver of economic growth and development, and their investments in infrastructure and skills are evident through projects such as the upcoming Zaria courts for the Basketball African League (BAL) and the renovation of Amahoro Stadium, among others.
Kagame also called upon partners to develop Africa as a premier global travel destination.
Under the theme "Building Bridges to a Sustainable Future," the WTTC 23rd Global Summit has attracted government representatives from over 45 nations, including the President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu Hassan; the Vice President of Burundi, Prosper Bazombanza as well as the CEO and President of WTTC, Julia Simpson, among others.
Together, they will deliberate on the challenges and opportunities within the tourism and travel sector.