Rwanda has taken a smart and innovative step to increase its global appeal as a leading global tourist destination by leveraging Arsenal’s massive fanbase around the world.
The Rwandan government said on Wednesday that it has signed a sponsorship and tourism promotion deal with the English soccer club Arsenal, thereby establishing a commercial bond with President Paul Kagame’s favourite team. The three-year deal will see ‘Visit Rwanda’ become Arsenal’s official Tourism Partner. The ‘Visit Rwanda’ logo will feature on the left sleeve of all Arsenal’s first, under-23 and women’s teams, the government said in a statement.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Arsenal and showcasing the vibrancy and beauty of our country. Rwanda is a country pulsing with energy, creativity and innovation,” Rwanda Development Board Chief Executive Officer, Clare Akamanzi said.
Tourism is the leading foreign exchange earner for the country. Tourism earnings were estimated at $389.8 million in 2016, up from $367.7 million in 2015. The country has four national parks (Volcanos, Nyungwe, Akagera, and Gishwati) and natural assets, including six volcanoes, 23 lakes and numerous rivers, and rare species such as mountain gorillas.
The Rwandan government wants to use this new deal to highlight its “growing numbers of wildlife including black rhino, lions, zebra, chimpanzees and the famous mountain gorillas.”
In a 2011 study, SPORT+MARKT revealed that 72 percent of Africa’s 738 million people, aged between 16-69, have an interest in football. The study shows that 55 percent of them are interested in the Premiership, while 39 percent actively support an English top-flight team.
Arsenal’s Chief Commercial Officer, Vinai Venkatesham, said the “Arsenal shirt is seen 35 million times a day globally and we are one of the most viewed teams around the world. We look forward to working with the ‘Visit Rwanda’ team to further establish the country as a leading tourist destination.”
In a few years, Rwanda could find its already booming tourism sector expand as it catches the attention of over 35 million people every match day. The country’s National Parks are already attracting a record number of tourists due to growing numbers of wildlife including black Rhinos, lions, zebra, chimpanzees and the famous mountain gorillas. Rwanda has also been attracting new hotels and lodges across the country, making it easier to experience longer, unique and memorable vacations.
Rwanda is ranked as the second easiest place to do business in Africa by the World Bank, and is on pace to become Africa’s number one. The country was also awarded for its leadership in tourism and economic competitiveness by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and the World Economic Forum respectively.
“Visit Rwanda and discover why we are the second fastest growing economy in Africa. Investors in Rwanda are able to register their businesses in only six hours and prepare to enjoy the opportunities accrued from the free trade agreements that we’ve signed with over 50 countries,” said Rwanda Development Board CEO, Clare Akamanzi.
Clare also spoke proudly about the potentials of the country. “Renowned for our incredible and unique Mountain Gorilla tracking experience, tourists can also enjoy a variety of water sports, cycling, hiking, bird watching to list a few of the touristic attractions available while in Rwanda.”
An important part of Rwanda’s tourism sector is the state airline, which has also been expanding into new markets lately. The governments of Rwanda and Angola signed a Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) yesterday, which will give Rwanda access to all the airports in Angola, one of the biggest economies in Africa.
Prior to the Angola deal, Rwanda sealed aviation service agreements with Ghana and Togo this week. These agreements will give the country access to wider markets just as the Arsenal deal.