The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has officially announced the introduction of the tourism-operating license to support the regulation of tourism entities while at the same time granting grades to hotels that have already completed all the required procedures.
During a ceremony on Wednesday, 67 tourism entities – 50 hotels, 8 tour operators and 9 tour guides – received a tourism operating license, a tool that will now be used by consumers and policy makers to define quality standards of facilities and services.
The tourism operating license system aims at improving quality of service, building the capacity of the private sector and improving the marketing efforts of stakeholders in the industry in favourably positioning the destination.
The law regulating the tourism industry in Rwanda came into force on 28th July 2014, while the Ministerial order regulating tourism operating licenses and the grading of tourism entities was promulgated on 3 October 2016.
“We are convinced that this new development will warrant a more vibrant industry, enhance stakeholder competitiveness and widespread success,” said Clare Akamanzi, the CEO of the Rwanda Development Board. “The tourism operating licenses will also enhance transparency, accountability and proper standardization of the industry, maintaining the country’s front-row position as a tourism destination.”
Rwanda’s current ranking as the leading tourist destination in Africa as recognised by the World Travel Awards calls for actions such as this in order to maintain this providential position.
All tourism entities in the country, including accommodation establishments, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, tour operators, travel agencies, tour guides, tourism information offices, cultural tourism entities (cultural villages, private museums), and any other entity as determined by the ministerial order are required to obtain an operating license.
“Through this law, industry leaders anticipate to support stakeholders by ensuring that they maintain high standards, consistently improve quality of service and enhance efforts in training private sector stakeholders,” noted Belise Kariza, the chief tourism officer at RDB.
This will also enhance Rwanda’s product positioning in line with the East African Tourism Marketing Platform as both the law and the ministerial orders were developed in accordance with EAC standards and were subject to technical review.
The application process leverages technology to enhance efficiency and tourism entities are now expected to submit an online license application, upload a series of supporting documents on the tourism regulation website www.tourismregulation.rw and pay an application fee of Rwf 80,000. After this the entities will receive a physical inspection where they must demonstrate that they have fulfilled all license requirements before being awarded a certificate.
Rwanda’s tourism industry has grown rapidly in the past few years, as the number of hotel rooms has grown from 680 in 2003 to about 10,000, while tour operators have increased from 5 to 63 currently registered with Rwanda Tours and Travel Association (RTTA).