Rwanda’s Tourism Seeks Innovative Minds to Recover from Covid-19 Shock

Rwandans with tech or innovative business solutions will this June have an opportunity to pitch their business ideas that could help the country’s tourism and hospitality sector recover from the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.

The Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Private Sector Federation (PSF) ICT and Tourism Chambers will this June 4, host an online conversation and workshop to identify innovations and solutions the technology sector currently has, or could build to support the recovery process.

The conversation, to be led by RDB Chief Tourism Officer Belise Kariza, will focus on digitalisation of the tourism sector as the new driver of the economic recovery for tourism businesses, which have been one of hardest hit in the country as a result of closed travel for local and international visitors.

“The digitalisation of tourism will play a big role in leading the needed recovery for the economy just like it is helping in other sectors like trade, education and healthcare as global economies face-off the Covid-19 pandemic,” the organizers said in a concept statement.

The discussion slated for Thursday next week, comes at the time when the government has embarked on starting up a Rwf100billion Covid-19 economy recovery fund, which will largely support the tourism and hospitality, industry, and water, electricity, road infrastructure projects among other income-generating activities.

Both RDB and PSF ICT Chambers officials, Belise Kariza and Alex Ntare, Chairperson ICT Chambers said that they are looking forward to the pitch event.

Kariza said that the session will expose the sector to listen into new concepts and ideas that they (participants) have, so as to tackle different challenges emerging from Covid19 but also for the overall sector.

“We want to be inspired with new ideas. Not only digital way to also expose more ideas, answering the potential challenges that we have, not locked to one way (digitalisation) but many more alternatives of improving the sector going forward,” Kariza told KTPress today. 

Kariza added this discussion is needed since it’s obvious Rwanda didn’t have visitors since March 21 due to COVID-19 lockdown.

Event organizers said that the online workshop aims at opening up new opportunities for technology companies to better understand the need in the tourism sector and in doing so develop solutions fit for driving the sector’s growth.

They further said that together with tourism operators they will largely focus on strategies that could leverage technology to encourage domestic tourism covering but not limited to travel and hospitality sectors.

Usually when tech ideas are pitched to a group of investors, the outcome is having  investors or techies pick interest to work with the techpreneurs or buy their business. 

This time around, officials say the session will rather be a way of collecting ideas that can leverage existing efforts.

For instance, Alex Ntare told KTPress that ICT Chamber has been working with the Chamber of Tourism to promote digitalization of the industry, by supporting companies that are serving in the industry through incubation programs at the ICT Innovation Center in Kicukiro district.

Ntare said the meeting on Thursday is to provide a platform to accelerate digitalization of the tourism sector through public private dialogue. 

These kinds of conversations are already going on in other sectors like Education through the EduTech Forum and in Trade and Commerce through eCommerce Forum as well as Fintech forums.

“RDB’s intent is to leverage technology and the solutions we have to stimulate domestic tourism and help the sector’s recovery. Taking lessons from what has been done with e-commerce and the online e-learning platforms. RDB will also present to us their challenges that tech companies can turn into monetize-able opportunities,” Ntare explained.

Registration is currently in progress on http://bit.ly/2zJcdoH requiring one to use their email to access the four-steps registration process.

 




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