Whether it is to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, or the sandy beaches and blue skies in Seychelles and Mauritius, or the awe-inspiring wildlife in Kenya, the truth is we all love travelling someplace. We all enjoy leaving our accustomed environment to someplace new to experience diverse cultures, people, food, arts, and sights.
Tourism has immense rewards for both the tourists and the host country. The tourists get an invaluable experience while the host country gets numerous other benefits. To this end, many countries have begun investing in tourism, and one of these countries is Rwanda.
Rwanda’s tourist industry generated 14.9 percent of the country’s GDP in 2018. In 2019, the country saw its largest year gain in tourist income, with over 1.63 million visitors and $498 million in revenues and the country hopes to double this number by 2024 as indicated by Empower Africa.
The question that comes to mind is, how does tourism bring such returns? And how has it helped Rwanda grow?
How Has Tourism Helped Rwanda Grow ?
Since Rwanda began to invest in the sector actively, over 90,000 jobs have been created. Job creation aids a country’s growth, and this is a means through which tourism helps Rwanda’s growth.
Tourism has improved the standard of living of Rwandans. This is because for a country to meet the demands of international tourists, it has to have some infrastructure in place. These infrastructures include good transport, good healthcare, safety, and maintenance of law and order.
Rwanda has had to improve its transport system to meet these demands, including creating good roads, having its own top-notch Airline, enhancing its outreach and services, and erecting classy structures, such as the Kigali Conference Centre, which hosts international conferences.
The Kigali Arena, which hosted FIBA Afrobasket in 2021. Rwanda has also had to increase conservation and environmental efforts, which included planting trees and preserving wild species, and this had made the country a tourist destination for its wildlife and pristine environment; some attractions include The volcanoes national park, Ngugwe forest national park, and Akagera national park among many others.
To meet international standards, Rwanda has had to develop itself, and this is another way tourism helps Rwanda’s growth.
The increase in the standard of living has also attracted foreign investors. Many international companies and organizations have set up shop in Rwanda, including world-class hotels like The Marriot, Radisson Blue, Sheraton, and Golden Tulip, among many others.
This can also be attributed to the flock of tourists; in 2019 alone, 1634000 arrivals were recorded in Rwanda, according to the World Bank collection of development indicators. This increase in investment is also another way tourism helps Rwanda’s growth.
All the above has culminated in Rwanda’s economic growth. As of 2018, Tourism receipts were about $404 million. Job creation, increased standard of living, and investment all go a long way to boost Rwanda’s economy, proving that tourism is its most significant economic booster.
Having established tourism as Rwanda’s special goose, it is important to note how Rwanda can further harness the sector’s full potential.
How Can Rwanda Harness its Tourism’s Full Potential?
Through country marketing: So you’ve probably heard of company and business marketing, but what is country marketing? It’s not that different from company and business marketing.
Country marketing is all about how a country promotes itself to increase the amount of people travelling in. Why country marketing? Many hot tourist countries use country marketing in different ways, and there’s no one way to do it.
The trick is to find how best you can promote yourself and innovate around it. For example, India and Korea use their trendy movies to showcase their culture and hot locations, which is one way they have used to consistently capture tourists’ attention.
It is a very subtle but potent method. Perhaps Rwanda cannot make a movie on its beautiful Gorillas. But other ways Rwanda can market itself include: Highlighting its main attractions, identifying its target visitors, and obtaining and utilizing data to know and understand its visitors according to revfine.com.
Growth is dynamic and can also be imitated. Tourism has so much potential, and this is clear in the way it has improved Rwanda’s economy. When properly utilized, tourism can become any country’s goose that lays golden eggs.
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Deborah Akintayo is a young learner at African Leadership University passionate about storytelling. She believes storytelling to be a crucial tool in re-writing the African narrative. To this end, she has written a few short stories and is currently working on writing articles. Deborah is also interested in environmental conservation and how storytelling can make children more involved in caring for their environment.