A group of Rwandan tour operators and hoteliers, together with a team from the Rwanda Development Board, are heading to The Netherlands today to attend the 2016 edition of the Utrecht-based Vakantie Beurs, a five-day event showcasing tourism destinations to the Dutch.
Kigali, connected with Europe by both Brussels Airlines and KLM, is often the starting point for a safari to track mountain gorillas, visit the Akagera National Park or hike into and across the Nyungwe Forest National Park, made famous through the first ever canopy walk in one of East Africa’s primeval rain forests.
The format of the tourism trade fair this year is a combination of a dedicated day for the travel trade and the rest of the show for consumers to stroll through the halls and see what the various destinations have in store for them.
Greg Bakunzi, owner of both Amahoro Tours and the Red Rock Cultural Centre outside Musanze, is among the Rwandans attending the show and expressed his hope that the trip will pay off through additional business. He in particular praised the single tourist Visa for the NCIP [Northern Corridor Integration Projects] countries of Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya when he said: ‘Tourists can now book three countries on one Visa’.
The Rwanda Development Board’s Tourism Department has for the past several years attended this trade show, the first of the major tourism fairs in Europe and the nonstop flights by KLM between Amsterdam and Kigali have facilitated Dutch visitors with easy access by air, as have flights by Brussels Airlines, Kenya Airways and other carriers flying out of Holland to Eastern Africa. The expansion of Kigali’s international airport has made the facility more user friendly for passengers and the ongoing construction of a separate taxiway will cater for additional flights when complete.
In a related development was it also confirmed overnight that Rwanda, in order to encourage fan travel for the upcoming Africa Nation Championship, has waived Visa fees for the 15 countries which qualified for this continental football event. The waiver, saving each individual at least 30 US Dollars, covers teams, team management, fans and CAF officials including referees. This is a novel way of attracting more fans to accompany their teams and should serve as a reminder for other countries hosting major sporting events to take a leaf from Rwanda and copy such proactive innovations.