The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) recently released its 2017 Annual Report, which saw the country’s tourism sector rake in US$438 million in revenues, up from the $404m recorded in 2016.
However, this was slightly short of the projected $440m.
In addition, Rwanda was ranked as Africa’s third leading Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) tourism destination by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).
Of international arrivals, 88% came from other African countries and business travelers generated the highest revenue share.
Revenue generated from the MICE sector over the last decade grew by 180%, while the number of delegates visiting Rwanda jumped from 15 000 to 28 300 in the same period.
Business travellers brought in the highest share of overall tourism revenue, sitting at 33%, followed by visits, which accounted for 29% and holiday travellers at 27%.
In terms of origin, visitors from the EAC, Europe and the rest of Africa generated the highest revenue across all categories which include business, visit, holiday, education, health and transit.
In 2017, the majority of the 1.5m international non-resident arrivals reached Rwanda by land (87%), while 43% came from the East African Community (EAC) the largest group came from other parts of Africa.
According to the report, there were 94 000 visits to the country’s national parks, which generated $18.7m in revenue.
Volcanoes National Park accounted for 38% of all visits and generated over 90% of all revenues, with $17.1m.
Akagera National Park managed to collect about $1m, and attracted 44 000 visitors in 2017, whilst Nyungwe attracted 14 000 visitors.
In 2017, revenue from gorilla tickets increased by 14.1%, to over $18m, while permit sales rose slightly by 3.5% to 24 000 permits.
The report further revealed that Rwanda’s tourism attraction had reached more than 173 million people through global media exposure, as the country is in the process of trying to position itself as one of Africa’s leading tourist destinations.
According to the report, the reach was achieved through FAM trips, participation in international travel trade shows and participation in regional and international fairs.
Due to the recent agreement between Rwanda and the UK Premier League team, Arsenal FC, the reach is further expected to increase significantly.
Leaning on various drivers, such as improved visa regimes, security, safety, investment in hospitality and infrastructure, amongst others, Rwanda’s tourism sector is expected to maintain its growth trajectory in 2018.
In addition, RwandAir, which currently serves a variety of destinations and has plans to service more routes with improved access, has contributed to the country’s increase in tourism.
In a joint statement within the report, RDB CEO, Clare Akamanzi and RDB Chairman, Itzhak Fisher said: “Rwanda is on an upward trajectory. The country has made tremendous progress over the last years. To grow the economy, the Government of Rwanda has put in place suitable infrastructure and fostered a conducive business environment. In addition, it has taken a developmental approach, jump starting sectors that were not previously served by the private sector. These strategies have proved to be successful and resulted in an annual average GDP growth rate of 7.5% over the past decade.”