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May 22, 2014

Rwanda Steps Up Outreach for MICE Business

Rick Taylor set up the South Africa National Convention Bureau, the Cape Town Convention Bureau, and now, the Rwanda Convention Bureau. IMR's James Latham met up with him at IMEX Frankfurt to get his insights on Rwanda as a MICE destination.
"If you look at Rwanda from a tourism perspective, right now the economic benefits are driven off the back of [gorilla tourism]," Taylor said. The decision, then, is whether or not Rwanda will focus its tourism outreach on leisure and safari travel. Taylor's answer? "Absolutely. But," he added, "there is a blank page, and the headline is ‘Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Events and Exhibitions,’ so the role right now sits under the presidential vision of Rwanda becoming the first middle-income country in Africa--and the pillar to deliver that, the propeller, is categorically, the MICE sector."

RELATED: Rwanda Launches Convention Bureau to Attract MICE Market

In terms of infrastructure and opportunities for growth, Rwanda, Taylor continued, is now where South Africa was 15 years ago. The capacity for large-scale events is there, he said, but in a different format. "If you look at the PCO infrastructure in the associations, right now there are loads of travel agents and tour operators who are playing in that kind of space," he said, acknowledging that "a lot of learning" still needs to happen to win association businesses and corporation businesses.

Rwanda's MICE scene is in its earliest stages, Taylor said. "We’re putting in the building blocks – as always, height is determined by depth." Before meeting planners will come to the destination to even consider it for an event, they need to know that it has a PCO to help them. "The Bureau is about to become an ICCA member–the cheque is in the post!" he said. "And we want to see those people joining ICCA, joining Site, joining South Africa, and really lifting the game." After all, he added, a rising tide lifts all boats.  

Industry pros from around the world have gathered in Frankfurt to discuss the future of meetings and events. An estimated 3,500 exhibitors (including tourist boards, convention bureaus, international hotel chains, airlines and destination management companies) have set up at the Messe Frankfurt to do business with 9,000 visitors (including almost 4,000 hosted buyers) over an intense three days. 

IMEX Frankfurt is ending its three-day run today. Keep an eye on InternationalMeetingsReview.com for updates from the show floor.

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About the Author: James Latham

James Latham

About the Author: Jena Tesse Fox

Jena Tesse Fox





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