Sports tourism in Rwanda

Major sporting events in Africa have become magnets for fans to travel in support of their teams, and the ongoing CHAN 2016, the African continent’s second largest football tournament, is not any different.

Held in Rwanda this month has this championship for African national football teams seen 15 teams qualify alongside the host nation. The main difference with the African Cup of Nations is that foreign based players are no eligible for team selection, relying entirely on the local talent of players taking to the field week in and week out for their respective local clubs.

Rwandan hotels and transporters have expressed their delight with the high level of interest and the large number of visitors now using the local facilities across the country. The Rwandan government played its part to help promote the event when they waived VISA fees – Visa for African Union member state citizens are given on arrival in Kigali but for some nationalities fees apply – for teams, officials and fans coming to the country in an effort to boost visitor numbers. National airline RwandAir too has reportedly benefited from the influx of fans as have long distance bus companies.

Amavubi – the name of the Rwandan national team, won their first two matches against Ivory Coast and Gabon and are today meeting Morocco in the decider if they go through to the quarter finals unbeaten and thereby expecting an easier path towards the final. Uganda, after losing their crucial match against Zambia now only have a mathematical chance of advancing into the quarter finals while Zambia in turn are through already.

In a related development has Rwanda’s recent participation in the Dutch tourism trade fair Vakantiebeurs in Utrecht yielded immediate results as a group to travel agents and potential investors in the tourism industry have already flown to Kigali to explore trade contacts and assess opportunities in the tourism sector.