Rwanda tourism targets East Asia
For the 5th time, Rwanda Development Board / Tourism and Conservation participated in the annual 2011 JATA Tourism Forum & Travel Showcase, the largest travel-industry event in Asia, which was held from September 29 to October 2, in Tokyo, Japan.
Rwanda’s continued participation at the JATA Expo which is the most important global forum of tourism in the Far East is in line with its strategy to tap into the enormous potential of Japan’s tourism market most especially since Japanese are widely known for their preference for leisure travels.
“Since Rwanda started participating in 2006, it has been the most cost-effective and efficient way of penetrating the Japanese market,” explained John Gara, CEO RDB. “It is a comprehensive communication tool that brings about face-to-face interaction between Rwanda and Japanese tourists and travel agents which has recorded a dramatic increase in the number of the tourists from Japan to Rwanda.”
The theme for this year’s JATA Fair was “Travelling cheers up the world” and it was specifically chosen to encourage travel. It also registered an increase as 117,236 people participated in comparison with 111,232 people in the 2010 event.
Annually, almost 15 million Japanese, with the East Asia / Pacific region being their destination of choice. In 2010, Japanese leisure visitors almost tripled (with 275% increase) from the 13th position to 8th position for international tourism’s top spenders behind Germany, USA, China, UK, France and Canada; but surpassed Netherlands, France, Sweden, Spain and Switzerland.
“Japanese are ranked as the best travelers in terms of spending and are thus in line with Rwanda’s targets of high end clients,” said Rica Rwigamba, head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB. “This will be boosted further with the planned visit of the biggest travel agency in Japan to film and document Rwanda’s relatively unknown tourism destinations
The Rwandan participants included a delegation from RDB/Tourism and Conservation and the private sector mainly tourism operators. The Rwandan stand at JATA was among the most visited where various tourism opportunities and projects were showcased. In addition, tourist attractions and products were displayed.
“The organizers did their best to make this trade show attractive and interesting for visitors, and appropriate for participants to be able to display their goods and services, and share ideas effectively,” noted Frederic Budaramani, managing director of the East Africa Eco Explorer. “This enabled me to learn about current tourism trends, meet and network with potential partners and clients.”
The first biennial JATA World Tourism Congress & Travel Fair was held in 1977, 13 years after the 1964 liberalization of overseas travel in Japan, just as the overseas travel industry was starting to take off when the number of Japanese overseas travelers stood at 3.15 million. In 2003, the Congress and Fair became an annual event.
Statistics show that Japanese mainly come to Rwanda for leisure purposes as indicated by 2010 figures that show 64 % of Japanese visitors came for leisure, and most of them come by road with 63% having crossed the borders in 2010. This highlights the fact that most of the Japanese visit Rwanda as a part of East African destination – Kenya which hosted almost 9,118 Japanese (almost 5 times of what Rwanda hosted), and Tanzania that recorded almost 4,441 Japanese in 2010 (almost 2 times of those visiting Rwanda).