At Luxperience for their second year, Visit Rwanda in Australia was a hit with attendees

Visit Rwanda was recently in Australia for Luxperience where they hosted an exclusive lunch seminar for buyers and media to learn more about this emerging destination and what makes it an attractive option for travellers to East Africa.

At Luxperience for their second year, Visit Rwanda was a hit with attendees. Both the Government and Public Sectors were represented at the stand, including Rwanda Development Board, the national airline Rwandair, One&Only Resorts, Mantis Collection, Uber Luxe Safaris, Heritage Safaris and African Unique Safaris & Tours.

VisitRwanda team at Luxperience. Image: Kate Webster

Speaking at the lunch, Chief Tourism Officer at Rwanda Development Board, Belise Kariza, said that the gorillas are a major draw card for the country, but it is a destination that has so much more to offer.

The challenges were to ensure visitors travelled the country and not just visited the gorillas. The focus ‘Beyond the gorillas’ has two angles – promoting new products and promoting existing products beyond the gorillas, » Belise Kariza explained.

« This is where partnerships with the likes of One&Only, Bistate, Wilderness Safaris, Mantis Collection and more become important, to piggyback off the brand. »

« The private sector also plays a very big role in selling all the products on offer in Rwanda, not just the gorillas, » Belise Kariza continued.

Simon Bruce-Miller representing Uber Luxe Safaris added that from a private sector perspective, an itinerary for Rwanda is in a transition.

« Five years ago, it was almost certainly a three nights gorilla trekking itinerary that was added on to a Tanzania or Kenya safari, » Simon Bruce-Miller explained.

« Now we are seeing a trend where travellers will take an eight or nine night itinerary beyond the gorillas to include other destinations around the country like Nyungwe Forest and more, » Simon Bruce-Miller said.

Bonita Mutoni, Marketing Manager for One&Only in Rwanda said the company saw potential in the destination and have invested in the two properties, One&Only Nyungwe House at Nyungwe Forest and One&Only Gorillas Nest at Volcanoes National Park, opening next month.

« As a brand internationally, One&Only has its own clientele, so opening in Rwanda opens new markets for those clients, » Bonita Mutoni added.

When questioned about the increase in the gorilla trekking permit price to USD$1500, double that of neighbouring Uganda, Belise Kariza confirmed that revenue from January to September 2018 to the same period in 2019 had increased by 25 percent. With a 15 percent increase in permit numbers for the same period, to a total of 17,431 permits sold in January to September 2019, the price increase has not shown signs of deterring visitors.

The market is picking up and we are now attracting a different type of traveller, » Belise Kariza pointed out.

In attendance at the lunch and meeting with Visit Rwanda at Luxperience, Roderick Eime from Travography said « when you attend this kind of trade show all the time, it is truly refreshing to discover a standout destination that not only breaks through the clutter and noise but offers experiential travel opportunities that others can only dream of. »

« Rwanda seems like the destination for the 21st-century’s thinking traveller. I am going to be watching Rwanda very closely. »

Kate Webster

The Express News

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