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Why Govt Should Look Beyond ITB

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OPINION

Rwanda was awarded the "Best of the Best Exhibitor Award and also emerged as the Best Continental Exhibitor" at the just concluded ITB (Internationale Tourismus Börse) in Berlin, Germany. This is not the first time for Rwanda travel and tour companies to receive such awards.

The Government has inreasingly been investing in tourism sector to boost revenues towards the country's economic development. So many more touristic attractions have been identified to add on existing ones, formerly dominated by national parks flora and fauna, some of whose inhabitants are among rare species in the world.

It is, important, however for Rwanda to venture into new markets rather than stick to traditional ones.

For example, the Moscow International Travel and Tourism (MITT) exhibition that took place from 18th and ended on 21st March is another event that Rwanda should not have missed. The 2015 event marks MITT's 22nd edition and is among the five biggest exhibitions worldwide, according to tourism industry specialists.

Would Rwanda tourism exhibitors go beyond Berlin? The idea behind this article is to introduce to Rwandan tourism industrialists the Moscow Annual Tourism Exhibition so that they plan to participate in the event in the future.

The event could be another opportunity for Rwanda travel and tour companies to showcase the potential that Rwanda tourism offers to tap into the Russian tourism market and thus contribute to the national sector development agenda and the national economy.

This year, the MITT attracted three thousand exhibitors from 203 countries and regions of the world. During 4 days, MITT 2014 was visited by 37,000 people. In 2015, as predicted by the organizers, the increase in the number of visitors may have reached 5-9 per cent.

MITT is Russia's most prestigious travel and tourism tradeshow and, as mentioned above, one of the top five travel events in the world. Annually, the event goes from strength to strength, and showcases an excess of 2,000 travel companies.

Seventy-five per cent of exhibitors represent international destinations - a figure which has seen constant growth as more international destinations value Russia as a very big market for tourism.

Among other expectations, the fair attracted 2,056 exhibitors, 198 countries and regions; 37,436 unique visitors - 74 per cent trade visitors; covered 57, 737 sqm (gross) exhibition space over 9 halls, and was covered by 387 local and international journalists.

Companies from African countries participating in the international exhibition came from Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, Tunisia and South Africa.

Every year, the exhibition attracts the best representatives of the tourist industry in Russia and all over the world, and the leading market players to show off their new programmes and destinations on the eve of the tourist season

Because of the current difficult economic and geopolitical conditions, tourism market is undergoing significant transformation. According to the Federal Agency for Tourism, in 2014 the number of Russian tourists traveling abroad decreased by about 15-20 per cent. But this does not mean Rwanda can't tap from the 75 per cent to 80 per cent still actively traveling.

Rwandan tourism companies should benefit from such a big opportunity for information exchanges about tourism investment opportunities as well as touristic attractions. Rwanda's rich history, culture, diversity and endless wildlife experiences would also be showcased to draw more Russians to visit Rwanda.

Rwanda's tourism sector continued to grow in the past one year cementing its position as one of the key sources of foreign exchange for the country. For the year 2014, the sector registered a nine percentage increase in the number of visitors to Rwanda.

These numbers grew from 1.14 million visitors to 1.2 million visitors, also accounting for an increase in revenue from US $296.4m to US$303m. If Rwanda could tap a portion of the vast Russian tourism market, the revenue from tourism could increase significantly.

The writer is the Communications Officer Rwandan Embassy in the Russian Federation

Source : allafrica.com

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