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Rwanda commits to supporting local tourism in post-COVID-19 recovery

Rwanda commits to supporting local tourism in post-COVID-19 recovery
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Rwanda’s local tourism sector will be one of the beneficiaries of the soon to be launched COVID-19 recovery fund, that aims to foster economic recovery of various economic sectors.

Rwandan media has reported this week that tourist sector is among the worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with a lot of uncertainty about how soon the sector would recover.

But Rwandan government has announced that the tourist sector will be one of the beneficiaries of new affordable loans to avail operating capital.

Clare Akamanzi, the Chief Executive of Rwanda Development Board, said that operations in the sector will be supported through the special funds.

“We are putting in place a COVID-19 recovery fund to support businesses that will have been affected, so they access affordable loans with good terms for working capital and other needs,” Akamanzi said.

“We are also encouraging digitization of businesses process and experiences,” she added.

Rwanda Development Board last week took part in G-20 Tourism Ministers’ summit convened by Saudi Arabia.

The meeting, among other things, noted that the global tourism sector had taken a hit, with preliminary estimates from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) indicating a 45 percent-decline in international tourism in 2020, which could rise to 70 percent if recovery efforts are delayed until September.

The travel and tourism sector accounts for 10.3 percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and plays a critical role in society by contributing to dialogue and understanding between peoples and cultures and facilitating cohesion in communities.

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has estimated that up to 75 million jobs are at risk in this labor-intensive sector.

Among the proposals adopted by countries, including Rwanda, from the meeting is supporting economic recovery of the sector by facilitating enterprises to adapt and thrive in a new post-crisis era.

“We commit to helping tourism sector businesses, especially micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), entrepreneurs, and workers to adapt and thrive in a new post-crisis era, for example by fostering innovation and digital technologies that enable sustainable practices and seamless travel,” the post-summit communique read.

Countries also agreed to foster economic recovery, by committing to ensure a safe travel environment that helps rebuild consumer confidence in the sector, by strengthening regional and international coordination.

Rwanda and other countries also committed to exchanging experiences and good practices, as well as strengthening coordination across governments to deliver integrated policy responses, including making continuous efforts in strengthening the resiliency of tourism.

Players in the sector will also receive support to accelerate the transition of the travel and tourism sector onto a more sustainable path – economically, socially and environmentally, The New Times reported.

“We will continue collaboration with industry stakeholders to improve the sector’s resilience, share relevant knowledge and information to improve crisis management, strengthen coordination mechanisms, and better prepare the sector to respond to future risks or shocks,” countries agreed.

To address the immediate consequences of the crisis, it was agreed that countries would continue coordination with health, immigration, security, and other relevant authorities to minimize undue restrictions for essential travel such as for medical workers and stranded individuals.

“We will work with authorities to ensure that the introduction and removal of travel restrictions are coordinated and proportionate to the national and international situation, and ensure the safety of travelers,” the post-meeting communique noted.