Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Rwanda MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) industry has recorded a loss of about $48 million. This was disclosed by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Soraya Hakuziyaremyeon, during a press conference organized last Monday.
Although the economy has experienced a gross loss of $48 million, Hakuziyaremye is still bullish that the national economy has the potential of making about $180 million.
“We can’t quantify all the losses so far and although we are not going to realize the same economic growth that we have experienced in the last 10 to 15 years, the International Monetary Fund says that we still have an opportunity of growing by 2 percent,” she said.
Initially, MICE’s projected revenue for 2020 was $88 million, which is ten percent higher than the previous year’s earnings of $56 million.
Between March and April 2020, Rwanda had already lost $10 million (Rwf9.5 billion) or 10 percent of the estimated revenue, when twenty previously scheduled meetings were postponed.
Considering the pandemic on the ground, it seems highly improbable that the financial goal will be realized.
After joining the Commonwealth, a few years ago, Rwanda was set to host the highly anticipated Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2020 (CHOGM) in the capital city of Kigali, last June, but the event was postponed due to the pandemic.
It is estimated that the prestigious conference would have generated over $700 million. The country’s forecast had put delegates’ expenditure alone at around $80 million, as the event was expected to attract about 10,000 delegates, including 52 heads of states.
To a large extent, the economy of the East African country is driven by travel and tourism, to enlarge the country’s hospitality, Rwanda has gradually endeavored to become a destination for international events amongst other high-level functions.
The destination strategy has also contributed to the economic growth of the country internally through hotel and conference center bookings, shopping, tourism, and externally through its national carrier RwandAir.
According to the Rwanda Convention Bureau (RCB), Rwanda hosted 201 events in 2018. Some of the events include the Extraordinary African Union Summit and the Next Einstein Forum; Mo Ibrahim Good Governance Meeting; SWIFT African Regional Conference; Africa Green Revolution Forum and GSMA Mobile 360 Africa.