A report released by the World Bank has suggested that Rwanda is among the few countries in Africa that currently have the capacity for tourism success and potential to boost economic growth, and create new jobs.
The report- ‘Tourism in Africa: Harnessing Tourism for Growth and Improved Livelihoods’- released on October 3; indicates that this will be possible through establishing strong political support for developing the industry and attracting increased private investment to help finance and sustain it, of which Rwanda has been at the frontier, under President Paul Kagame’s leadership.
The report examines the potential of African countries to improve and expand their tourism sector, and suggests that 33 of Sub Saharan Africa’s 48 countries currently have the capacity for tourism success through establishing strong political support for developing the industry and attracting increased private investment to help finance and sustain it.
The report cites successful examples of countries including Cape Verde, Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and others, who have simplified their tourism policies, liberalized air transport and diversified tourism while protecting their communities and environments, which created a positive investment climate for tourism development.
The report indicates that the Sub Saharan Africa is outpacing other regions in tourism growth with tourism accounting directly or indirectly for one in every 20 jobs in Sub Saharan Africa in 2011.
It also predicts that compared to other African regions, the Sub Saharan Africa’s tourism industry is set to spur more economic growth for the continent and directly employ 6.7 million people by 2021.
In 2012, Africa attracted 33.8 million visitors, up from a low 6.7 million visitors in 1990, and its receipts from tourism for the same year amounted to over US$36 billion, or 2.8 percent of the region’s GDP.
In 2011, global tourism contributed 9.1 percent to world GDP, 5.9 percent of worldwide exports and 4.5 percent of global investment. Africa’s tourism revenues are rising fast and are set to contribute more and more to world activity.
Rwanda’s Tourism sector is expected to be a major key player in Rwanda’s economic growth which is predicted to grow at an average GDP of 7.4 percent each of the next four years.
Rwanda’s Tourism Sector performance
Rwanda’s tourism sector has done well at a time when tourists numbers have become choosy in picking destinations due to hard economic times.
According to RDB, for the first six months of the year, Rwanda hosted 405,801 visitors, which is a 27 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
The visitors generated an estimate of US$115.6 million, compared to almost US$90.6 million made last year during the same period (an increase of 28 percent).
In May 2013, Rwanda’s Minister of Trade tabled, in parliament, a bill to regulate tourism sector. The bill seeks to regulate, among others, licensing and grading of tourism entities, inspection of tourism entities, activities and obligations of tourism entities, and sets up a concept of tourism development levy for capacity building.
Rwanda has been recognized as the tenth fastest growing economy in the world (an average real GDP of 8.2 percent) during the last decade from 2000 and also the first country in East, Central and North Africa to become a member of the highly prestigious International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP), enhancing its reputation as one of the favourite tourist destinations in the world.