Rwanda tourism revenue up 25 pct last year despite pandemic

A young male mountain gorilla walking in the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. (Photo: CFP)

Rwanda's tourism revenues increased by 25 percent from 131 million U.S. dollars in 2020 to 164 million U.S. dollars in 2021, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) said Tuesday.

The Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) sector generated 12.5 million U.S. dollars in 2021 compared to 5.4 million U.S. dollars in 2020, RDB said in a statement.

Total visitor arrivals increased by 2.8 percent, from 490,000 in 2020 to 512,000 in 2021, it said, adding that sports events hosted during the period significantly contributed to visitor arrivals and revenues.

While noting that tourism was one of the sectors heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, RDB said the government implemented several initiatives to revive the sector.

This included putting in place the 100 billion Rwandan francs (about 100 million U.S. dollars) in the Economic Recovery Fund, half of which was dedicated to tourism and hospitality.

Meanwhile, the RDB said it recorded the highest investment registration in key sectors amid the COVID-19 pandemic, having registered investments worth 3.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, up from 1.3 billion in 2020.

"This is the highest investment registration to date and was driven by strategic investment projects. The new investments are expected to create 48,669 jobs - representing a 97 percent increase from the previous year," the statement said.

The Rwandan government aims to create 214,000 new jobs from investments and other employment sources every year.

Economic sectors that attracted the most significant registered investments in 2021 include construction, real estate, and manufacturing which accounted for 72 percent of all investments registered.

"The 2021 performance demonstrates the gains of our economic recovery efforts. In investment registration, not only have we surpassed our pre-pandemic figures, but we also registered the highest investment registration to date," RDB Chief Executive Officer, Clare Akamanzi, said.

"Achieving this feat against the odds of the pandemic that has negatively impacted the world economy is a sign of continued investor confidence in Rwanda by both local and foreign investors," she added.

The growth trajectory is expected to continue in 2022 aided mainly by manufacturing and construction investments, as well as regional and international trade, according to RDB.