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Big meetings drive hotel boom in Kigali

Hospitality, services hedge against unreliable commodity markets

In the past few years, Rwanda has risen to become among the leading foreign direct investment (FDI) destinations in the Great Lakes, and even beyond.

This is particularly true when one considers a number of the biggest international hotel chains which have recently opened their doors: Kigali Radisson Blu, Serena, Park Inn, Sheraton, Zinc, Protea, and Golden Tulip among others.

All these hotel hotel brands are establishing in Rwanda with the aim of grabbing a slice of the regional conferencing pie as the country positions itself to make meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) the base of tourism industry.

Demand for hotel rooms in Kigali has been driven by spectacular rise of Rwanda’s tourism industry in the recent past. Now with more than one million tourist arrivals each year, Rwanda’s tourism sector is presently the leading foreign exchange earner, raking in more than $300 million per year. According to Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Rwanda hosted 25,932 conference visitors last year, compared to 19,085 in 2014, indicating that the longterm outlook to the country’s MICE tourism segment is now very vibrant. Last year alone, MICE tourism earned Rwanda $29,million in revenues.

The booming MICE sector is a resounding vote of confidence in the reforms the country has been undertaking over the years in its bid to revitalise an economy that almost everybody believed would be in limbo for decades following the atrocious 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.  It’s currently evident that Rwanda’s reforms on Ease of Doing Business are bearing fruit for both local and foreign investors.

With commodities becoming increasingly unreliable and unpredictable, Rwanda now can focus on the hospitality and service resource industry to spur its economy in this unpredictable times. A vibrant hospitality sector is expected to bring some level of stability to the Franc as more dollars are expected to come into the market.

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