President Paul Kagame has been presented with the 2017 World Tourism Award for visionary leadership on the opening day of the World Travel Market in London.
The World Tourism Awards, celebrating their 20th anniversary, were established to recognise individuals, companies, organisations, destinations and attractions for outstanding initiatives related to the travel and tourism industry, and in fostering sustainable tourism and developing programmes that give back to local communities.
According to the organisers, Kagame was given the award in recognition of his visionary leadership though a policy of reconciliation, sustainable tourism, wildlife conservation, and economic development attracting major hotel investment, resulting in the remarkable turnaround that has led to Rwanda’s rise as one of the leading tourism destinations in Africa today.
“On behalf of the people of Rwanda, I thank you for this award which recognises Rwanda’s efforts to promote sustainable tourism,” Kagame said in his acceptance speech. “We have been working hard to protect our natural environment while building the infrastructure for our visitors and citizens. Growth in this industry has proven to be a driver of shared prosperity because we ensure that Rwandans benefit directly.”
“These good results have been possible because Rwandans have made a mindset shift from dependence to dignity and self-reliance,” he added. “This is why for example former poachers are today the most dedicated protectors of wildlife. This is a story that is being repeated across the continent as Africans increasingly take charge of their future.”
We are also finding ways to multiply Rwanda’s connections with the rest of the world which is what this award represents. It is getting easier to travel to Africa; RwandAir now flies to 24 destinations on the continent and beyond including London,” Kagame said.
Other award recipients were Charity Challenge and Micato Safaris-AmericaShare honoured for sustainable tourism.
Charity Challenge was honoured, in recognition for creating, managing, and delivering international fundraising expeditions across 6 continents and 38 countries, which over the last 18 years have inspired tens of thousands of people to raise more than £50million for 1,800 charities, as well as themselves donating close to £500,000 to community projects.
The third honouree, Micato Safaris-AmericaShare, was lauded for its philanthropic work that has improved the lives of thousands of orphaned and vulnerable African children through the gift of education, including the Micato One for One Commitment, which sends a child to school for every safari sold.
The award ceremony was followed by a reception and a special performance by the Rwanda National Ballet, Urukerereza.