Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has awarded Africa’s exhibitors at the inaugural Rwanda Tourism Week but also cautioned sector players to play a lead role in preventing further spread of COVID-19 virus.
Zéphanie Niyonkuru, the RDB Deputy Chief Executive Officer said that the new variants emerging (Omicron) is a reminder that all people have to continue putting on masks, keeping physical distance among measures to control further virus spread.
Niyonkuru was this November 26, 2021 speaking at closing of the tourism week and gala dinner, an event that was launched on November 24 through 26, 2021 to showcase the Tourism and Hospitality actors within Rwanda and beyond.
Some of the awarded exhibitors include: Best private sector booth – Blue Train, Best EAC exhibitor – Tanzania, Best SADC exhibitor – Zimbabwe, Best Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Exhibitor – Ghana, Best Community Based Tourism Exhibitor – Beyond the Gorillas, Best Youth Exhibitor – [Youth guide from Indangamuco cooperative (Kivu Belt) and Best Woman Exhibitor – Judith Tours.
The event has attracted over 100 tourism and hospitality operators with tourism initiatives from as far as South Africa to Ghana, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia and Dubai.
Niyonkuru said that tourism was hit heavily but has shown a strong degree of resilience and the tourism week is to celebrate there is still a long way to go.
“We are not there yet. I think for the last two years we have been seeing trends of new variants every six months but we know efforts are put in place and believe we shall make sure our visitors are safe,” Niyonkuru said.
These remarks also come at a time when Rwanda, on Friday, announced reinstating a one day (24hours) specialized quarantine for all visitors and tourists visiting the country.
However, for Rwanda, Niyonkuru said that the ongoing combination of vaccination and preventive measures that Rwanda has taken will enable the country to protect its people and visitors to keep the sector running with no glitch.
Cuthbert Ncube, the current chairman of African Tourism Board (ATB) said it is high time for Africa to regroup together to improve its existing efforts in tourism.
“We are so much impressed with Rwanda’s bouncing back after this devastating pandemic. We are now on a crusade to talk to member states on how we can synergies, coordinate efforts so that we don’t approach tourism segmented as it is,”
He said that this is possible, as the African tourism board has started recognizing these synergies and levels of excellence in Tanzania, Kenya and Senegal among others.
This is our time to unite and been me one of the best continents because we have so much to offer as a continent of champions
Aimable Rutagarama, Chairperson of Rwanda Chamber of Tourism stated that despite the hard hit from the pandemic, sector players have lived beyond doing business for profits but upheld the value of social corporate responsibility to create a living for staff.
“We have done a lot to retain jobs as much as we can and this is because we cannot say we love animals and nature without loving fellow humans. This is something to be thankful to and keep up,” Rutagarama said.
The MasterCard foundation, which has been behind the sponsorship of tourism week said that they will continue to support the sector, as it has been seen through the pandemic where over 2000 hospitality staff were trained in English proficiency.