Vatel Group 17th International Convention has opened in Kigali. This gathering will focus on the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into professional training and services within the thriving global tourism industry. This event, organized by the Vatel Group and hosted by Vatel Rwanda marks the first-ever of its kind on the Sub-Saharan African continent, drawing participants from over 50 campuses across the globe, mirroring Vatel’s global presence.
Vatel stands at the forefront of tourism and hospitality management education and is present across 31 countries with 12 schools in Africa (including Rwanda), 17 in Europe, 13 in Asia and 10 in North America. Founded in 1981 in Lyon, France, Vatel counts over 39,000 alumni and is ranked as the first Worldwide Business School Group.
The convention also marked the official announcement of Karine Sebban Benzazon as the newly appointed President of Vatel Group:
“I am very moved to be speaking to you for the first time as President of the Vatel Group. I am very happy that the first convention under my leadership is held in Kigali. Together, let us show that a group of individuals from different countries, with different cultures, and religions, can speak to each other, work together and build a future for our children. Let us show that understanding one another is the best path to building peace,” Karine Sebban Benzazon said.
“When you chose to open Vatel in Kigali, I knew that it would be a contribution to the development and sustainable tourism in Rwanda. You are an example of success, as many alumni who have joined us in the management of Vatel schools,” Karine Sebban Benzanon added.
After close to two decades working in the hospitality industry in various countries, Nicole Bamukunde co-founded Vatel Rwanda in 2017 in an effort to provide quality education to youth in Rwanda and on the continent.
Speaking at the opening of the 17th Vatel International Convention, Nicole Bamukunde said:
“Thanks to the leadership of His Excellency President Paul Kagame and through the various socio-economic programs championed by Her Excellency Mme Jeannette Kagame, there has been a transmission of values of dignity, respect and humility that rebuilt Rwanda and fostered economic growth, in particular the tourism sector.”
“Equipped with a Vatel education and most of all with values of discipline, excellence and hard work, Vatel Rwanda students have shown that quality education can transform lives and is not a privilege that should be reserved to one part of the world. Today, 100% of our graduates are fully employed by the time of their graduation,” Bamukunde added.
For the next two days, the 17th Vatel International Convention will focus on the theme of “Education: Digital Technologies and AI in an era of Sustainable and Responsible Tourism.” This comes at a particularly opportune time, coinciding with a period when transformative technologies, such as AI, are increasingly determining the future of workforce management, capacity building, and service delivery, particularly within the tourism and hospitality sectors.
The newly appointed President of Vatel Group, Karine Sebban-Benzazon, expressed her eagerness to embrace these new technologies, setting the tone for the conference’s theme.
“During this convention we will work on an essential subject for our future: training in the age of artificial intelligence. Starting today, we will think together about what our training will be tomorrow (future)” Ms. Sebban-Benzazon said.
Rwanda has been at the forefront of adopting AI, not as a mere imitation but as a tool to help with information access to elevate students’ skill sets, according to Nicole Bamukunde, Director of Vatel Rwanda.
Eugene Mutangana, Head of Conservation at the Rwanda Development Board, who also joined the opening, emphasized the potential of digital technologies and AI to provide immersive experiences for tourists, including applications like Augmented Reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) that allow visitors to explore national parks and cultural sites virtually.
The convention also introduced new additions to the Vatel family, including Vatel Brazzaville and Vatel Sofia.
The 17th Vatel International Convention promises to be an event that explores the convergence of AI and hospitality education while celebrating the industry’s potential to contribute to economic growth globally.