Tour operators challenged to be more innovative

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The Rwanda Tours and Travel Association (RTTA) has been challenged to be innovative to tap into opportunities offered by the growing tourism industry. Bonita Mutoni, the association’s new chairperson, said the group needs to come up with new initiatives to tap into opportunities presented by the nascent Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events (MICE) market segment and the global tourism market, particularly the emerging markets.

Rwanda’s MICE sector strategy seeks to position the country as a top conference destination in the region.

“We need to work with other stakeholders and support initiatives geared at increasing arrivals and earnings from the sector,” Mutoni added.

A cross-section of participants at the recently-concluded ASEA conference in Kigali. Rwanda is positioning itself as a top conference destination the East African region.
A cross-section of participants at the recently-concluded ASEA conference in Kigali. Rwanda is positioning itself as a top conference destination the East African region.

A cross-section of participants at the recently-concluded ASEA conference in Kigali. Rwanda is positioning itself as a top conference destination the East African region.
A cross-section of participants at the recently-concluded ASEA conference in Kigali. Rwanda is positioning itself as a top conference destination the East African region.
She said RTTA will continue to partner with stakeholders, like the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and other hospitality sector players, to market Rwanda as a ‘must visit’ tourism destination to achieve these targets.

Mutoni was speaking in an interview with The New Times after being elected RTTA chief on Tuesday in Kigali.

The new RTTA chief is also the founder of Uber Luxe Safaris, a boutique luxury Safari company that specialises in arranging safaris in Rwanda and across the East African region.

The other new RTTA leaders are Carol Namatovu Busingye and Chetan Gina, who were elected vice-chairpersons, while Rosette Kirongoro is the secretary and Eugene Nshimiyimana the treasurer.

RTTA is a body of industry players in the travel and tours under the Private Sector Federation, whose primary goal is ensuring sustainable development of the tourism industry in Rwanda.

It has 54 member firms.

Speaking after the election, Joseph Birori, the outgoing committee chairman, said the association had, over the past years, established good working relationship with the government and clients. He urged the new team to bring new ideas to the industry, as well as develop these relationships further and continue complementing government efforts to boost tourist arrivals. “We expect the new team to bring new energy and ideas to build on what we started and take the association and the tourism sector to another level,” he said.

Birori said the good working relationship with government has helped position the tourism industry as one of the fastest-growing sectors in the region.

Last year, the local tourism sector recorded $342 million in earnings, and the country targets a 25 per cent increase in tourism receipts annually. This was achieved through the partnership between government and the private sector.

The association is working with the government on a campaign code-named, TemberaUrwanda, to encourage Rwandans to visit tourist attractions across the country. The initiative seeks to ensure sustainability of the sector and also enable Rwandans to learn about their country and work as tourism ambassadors where they may be.

However, industry players say there is still a lot to be done, including promoting cultural tourism and tapping into the MICE market segment.

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VIAJULIUS BIZIMUNGU
SOURCEThe New Times
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