Rwanda is looking to fully recover from the Covid-19 pandemic impact on the country’s conference tourism, Nelly Mukazayire, the chief executive of Rwanda Convention Bureau (RCB) has said.
In the last fiscal year, over $38.5 million was collected in 86 conferences that attracted more than 18,400 international visitors.
The outlook represents a record growth of more than 490 percent against the initial projection of $12 million.
“In the next year, we have a target of increasing our revenues to $43 million in a total of 72 conferences that are expected to attract 35000 international guests,” she said.
Mukazayire was addressing the media on Wednesday August 10, during the Kigali Global Dialogue conference which is underway in Kigali.
Journalists during the press conference on Kigali Global Dialogue in Kigali August 10. Craish Bahizi
With less than a quarter into the current fiscal year, she said, Rwanda has already been chosen to host 68 events, a development that could, on estimation, generate $40 million.
Rwanda has hosted major events including the Basketball Africa League (BAL), Volleyball championships, See For All, World Telecommunication Development Conference, and to cap it, CHOGM 2022.
“It is also true that the number of events and the number of guests attracted are not proportional to the revenue collected.”
Rwanda has in recent years been actively investing in the MICE sector with hope it could generate economic value for the country as well as raise its profile as a destination for business.
The sector generated $56 million (about Rwf53 billion) in 2019, with the government previously projecting $88 million revenues for 2020.
“It has been quite a challenging time, and it’s a reality that affected Rwanda as well as other parts of the world,” she added.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Despite the pandemic plunge to the sector, Mukazayire believes that hosting the Kigali Global Dialogue, among other events, is a clear sign that ‘will lead to pre-pandemic levels.
She also observed that as the government continues to ease Covid-19 restrictions, allowing for international travel, revenue collected from foreign investors is ‘set to more than double’.
“In particular, for this KGD (Kigali Global Dialogue) we have been partners, and we are happy to see that we are having the second edition coming to Kigali.”
The dialogue, she said, is unique in a way that it has recurring events (home grown events).
“And these are conferences that we have overtime. This gives us a chance to sit back and assess what the impact of the previous event was.”
“We are delighted to have this one because it perfectly aligns with our goal of attracting events but also ensuring that they deliver making this a sustainable industry.”
The three day conference is organised by the Rwanda Convention Bureau and the Observer Research Foundation, ORF America.
According to Samir Saran, President of the ORF, this year’s conference is bringing together over 100 participants from 45 countries.
The participants, he said, include policy makers, industry experts, academics, and investors.
“We have a whole spectrum of age, of approaches and I hope that we become the bridge of opportunities,” said Saran.
In the next three days in Kigali, Saran pointed out that participants will be looking to share experiences and devise solutions to contemporary global challenges.
“We are looking to create space between developed and developing countries not just in the political space, but also a chance to discuss real issues in our communities.”