What makes Rwanda a remarkable destination for meetings, events and incentive travel?
Rwanda, and its capital city of Kigali, have recently been ranked the third most popular destinations in Africa for accommodating meetings and events by the ICCA 2017 report. ICCA represents the world's leading suppliers in handling, transporting and accommodating international meetings and events, and Rwanda is now known and praised for its excellent infrastructure for meetings. This ranges from the state-of-art Kigali Convention Centre to an array of iconic tourism attractions. Rwanda was ranked as the number one safest country in Africa and 9th in the world by the World Economic Forum in 2017.
Other reasons Rwanda is quickly becoming a destination of choice for international conferences and event organisers are the world-class Kigali Convention Centre and the growing presence of international hotel chains such as Radisson, Marriott and the newly opened Onomo Hotel located in Kigali. This destination has all the amenities and facilities to meet the needs of any meeting planner.
Rwanda is a preferred MICE destination due to its simplified visa process that allows nationals of every country in the world to get a visa on arrival. In addition to its easy accessibility, due to the multitude of flight options offering connectivity to Kigali and the rest of Africa though the national carrier Rwandair, the destination boasts a number of unique attributes that comprise the competitive advantages that are important differentiators for the MICE sector to succeed.
Can you tell us about some of the different regions and cities that are popular for MICE business?
Kigali is Rwanda’s rapidly growing capital city and the most important business centre in the country. It has grown into a modern metropolis – the heart of the emerging Rwandan economy and the safest and cleanest capital city in Africa. Kigali has a vast range of accommodation options including five-star hotels, boutique hotels and apartments. Kigali currently has on offer over 1,500 hotel rooms in the three to five-star ranks, in close proximity to the Kigali Convention Centre and the city centre.
The city of Kigali displays several historical landmarks and attractions, notably the Kigali Genocide Memorial, the Richard Kandt House-Museum of National History and various other memorials. One of the best things about Kigali city is that it is safe to wander the streets and explore the city by foot; several famous local spots are within walking distance. Immerse yourself in local art and culture as you shop for souvenirs at M. Peace Plaza, Kigali City Tower, Union Trade Centre or Caplaki Craft Village.
Have there been any major international events held in Rwanda recently?
Yes, this year alone, we have hosted the following events:
-Transform Africa Summit that was held in May 2018 and brought in 1,500 delegates
-African Organization for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC) that was held in November 2017 and brought in 1,000 delegates
-African Union Summit that was held in March 2018 and brought in 3,658 delegates
-Next Eistein Forum that was held in March 2018 and brought in 1,500 delegates
- Mo Ibrahim Foundation that was held in April 2018 and brought in 1,000 delegates
Are there any traditional foods or local specialities people should try while they’re in Rwanda?
Kigali has an up and coming eat-out atmosphere that offers culinary dishes tailored to your taste. Some of the most popular local dishes include:
Ugali/Bugali/Ubugali: This is made from maize flour which is cooked with water until reaching a consistency similar to that of bread dough. The ugali is the most common staple food in the region. Ugali is traditionally eaten with the hands, similarly to a flat bread in some Northern African counties, and can be used as a sort of ‘scoop’ to pick up meat or vegetables stews.
Sambaza (fish): The sambaza fish are a local delicacy and visitors coming to the area can never get enough of it. Sourced from the borders of Rwanda, you’ll find the famously delicious small sambaza fish. Often deep fried and served with a lemon on the side, accompanied by French fries. Indeed, a visit to Lake Kivu would not be complete without having tried this mouth-watering treat.
Brochette: This one is for the carnivores; you cannot leave Rwanda without tasting a brochette. Whether you’re on the side of the road, in a high-end restaurant, or in front of a nightclub at 3am, grilled meat brochettes can be found all around the region. Chicken, beef, fish and goat meat cuts might be the most common options, but it is specifically the goat meat brochettes that remain a favourite amongst the locals. Often, the tender and juicy seasoned meat cuts are served on a stick with slices of onion and sweet peppers separating the portions.
Lastly, we have Isombe: This flavoursome vegetarian dish is made out of mashed cassava leaves, also known as manioc leaves – isombe is always a hit. Together with the strongly-flavoured greens, you’ll find onions and peppers used in the preparation, and sometimes aubergines and spinach. The ingredients are then cooked in a sauce flavoured with peanut butter and palm oil. Meat could also be added in the preparation. Both versions are commonly eaten with white rice on the side, or bugali.
What activities or excursions can business travellers do in Rwanda if they have any free time or want to extend their visit?
Business travellers will be spoilt for choice when they visit Rwanda as the country offers many activities unique to the country and region including tracking gorillas, camping near a beautiful lake, and various types of restaurant that serve the local cuisine. Here are a few unique things tourists can see and do while visiting Rwanda.
Hike volcanoes: There aren’t too many places in the world where volcano hiking can be accomplished over a weekend. The dormant volcanic peaks of Bisoke, Sabinyo, Gahinga, Muhabura, and Karisimbi all create a stunning natural skyline in the Musanze Region. Day hikes are easy to organise, as are multiple-day hikes that involve camping outside overnight before continuing on to the top the next morning. For a moderate morning trek, you would consider Mount Bisoke, an extinct volcano with a crater lake at the top that straddles Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Gorilla tracking: Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is sensational and incomparable to trekking in any other country; with fewer than 900 mountain gorillas left in the world, over half of them reside in the Virunga Mountain Range. This range is shared between Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Though gorilla tracking is definitely a high-end activity, it’s been attested that it is certainly worth every penny as it also contributes to the conservation of these endangered beauties and will be a great experience.
Coffee washing stations: Rwanda has recently developed a tourist industry surrounding its coffee and tea production. Visit the Kinunu Coffee Washing Station near the lakeside town of Gisenyi, and sample some of Rwanda’s best coffee while learning all about the process from the bean to the cup.
Spending time in Kiglai: Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, is quickly transforming into a vibrant and exciting city providing an eclectic mix of tradition and modernity. Kigali has a lot to offer with markets, a range of bars, clubs, art galleries, hikes, and more: Kigali is a city on the move.
Which partners will visitors to The Meetings Show be able to meet on the Rwanda stand?
This year, we are so excited to have the following partners participating with us;
- Airline: Rwandair
- Event Organisers: Rwanda Events and General Logistics Limited
- Hotels: Kigali Convention Centre/Radisson and Kigali Serena
Do you have any plans for activities or incentives on your stand at The Meetings Show and what are you most looking forward to about exhibiting at The Meetings Show?
This is our very first time being a part of the Meetings Show London and after hearing successful stories from the event, Rwanda is extremely excited to partake in the must-attend show in the UK market, with hundreds of opportunities to learn, network and do business. Our main objective is to build a good rapport with potential future partners and really showcase the many ways Rwanda is a preferred MICE destination in Africa.
For anyone thinking about Rwanda as the destination for their next event – do you have one top tip to share?
Get in touch with us immediately – email firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com so that we can start assisting you with the preparations with your visit.