Rwanda’s tourism revenue hit $620 million in 2023

Tourists visit Akagera National Park. Rwanda’s tourism revenue rose by 36 percent from $445 million in 2022 to reach $620 million in 2023. Courtesy

Rwanda’s tourism revenue rose by 36 percent from $445 million in 2022 to reach $620 million in 2023 (approx: Rwf798 billion), as stated in the 2023 Rwanda Development Board (RDB) annual report.

ALSO READ: Rwanda tourism revenue more than doubled to $445m in 2022

The growth generated from 1.4 million visitors indicates that the sector has surpassed 2019 revenues, at a recovery rate of 124 percent from the hurdles of Covid-19 pandemic.

As a result of the country’s efforts to promote domestic tourism, this section increased to $47.7 million, contributing to increased visits to national parks which generated $35.79 million in 2023, the report adds.

For instance, the Volcanoes National Park registered the highest increase of 38 percent in visitors, followed by Akagera National Park which increased by 24 percent, and Nyungwe National Park by 10 percent.

Nyungwe National Park was declared a World Heritage site in 2023.

Consequently, RDB’s revenue sharing scheme with communities surrounding the national parks saw Rwf2 billion disbursed in different projects including 54 projects in agriculture sector, 43 infrastructure projects, 8 projects aimed at supplying equipment for rural shops, housing, and artisans, as well as 6 projects for community enterprises.

Michaella Rugwizangoga, Chief Tourism Officer, RDB, said the growth comes as a yield of strategies to position Rwanda as a unique high-end, low-volume, eco-tourism destination, and conservation efforts.

She noted that the country has consistently participated in top global tourism business fairs over the past 20 years, including the ITB Berlin, We are Africa, ILTM (Singapore, Cannes, and Virtuoso) where Rwandan travel agencies engage with tourism buyers.

“Rwanda’s capacity to attract top hospitality global brands such as One&Only, Singita, Radisson, and Marriott, the promotional role played by Visit Rwanda partnerships, as well as incentive opportunities for local and international investors are also key factors for such incredible growth.”

Going forward, Rugwizangoga said they anticipate continuous growth as indicated by the performance of national parks in the first quarter of 2024, despite January to March being traditionally a low season, the following months which are mostly high season will also yield more.

“We want to continue attracting top hospitality brands, diversify the offerings and products, and offer more leisure products targeted to families.”

Despite the government’s regulation move on closing time for nightlife, the leisure segment of tourism increased by 48 percent compared to 2022 and accounts for $236 million of total revenue. It increased by 19 percent to pre-pandemic level.

When it comes to the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events (MICE) industry, Rwanda recorded $95 million in revenue in 2023, from 160 events that attracted 65,000 delegates.

Experts in the MICE industry note that through investments in infrastructure and promotional strategies, the safety and stability the country enjoys, and the visa-free regime, Rwanda continues to emerge as one of the top destinations in Africa.

The revenue generated in 2023 might be a step closer to achieving the $800 million revenue target by 2024 from $400 million in 2017, as highlighted under the National Strategy of Transformation (NST1), the government’s seven-year (2017–2024) strategy that sets out plans for achieving its larger picture vision for economic development.

While the target was set before the onset of the pandemic, Rugwizangoga said the sector’s recovery is impressive and demonstrates its resilience.

“The sector representing 10 percent of Rwanda’s GDP can reach the target if we continue to deepen our efforts, increase the visitors’ length of stay, sell Rwanda internationally as one destination, and develop more religious tourism-related products, and culture and heritage products.”

Promoting a culture of excellence

The hospitality industry faces the challenge of poor service delivery which has been highlighted by many people, RDB efforts geared at addressing this issue saw 400 entities inspected to ensure quality standards and service delivery.

Additionally, 275 entities were monitored to ensure regulation compliance while 15 hotels were re-assessed for star rating.

Commenting on the overall economic performance under the RDB mandate, CEO Francis Gatare said priority investments were targeted in key sectors like green economy, infrastructure, ICT, health, and conservation to foster inclusive growth and resilience.



Alice Kagina



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