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For its debut at the IMEX, ‘Remarkable Rwanda’ attracts business worth millions to become a MICE destination





Rwanda’s emerging convention bureau got off to a flying start at IMEX in Frankfurt, netting up to US$5 million (£3m) in potential business leads.
Rick Taylor, CEO of the Business Tourism Company, which is working with the Rwandan government to get the new bureau off the ground, said the show had been ‘amazing’ with a large amount of interest resulting from its 21 appointments.
Rwanda is currently ranked 21st for Africa in the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) league tables, but Taylor wants to see it enter the top five by 2020.
He said people were keen to see the country brought to its knees by genocide two decades ago back on its feet once again. And with the Kigali Convention Centre opening at the end of 2015, and the appointment of Frank Murangwa as the MICE unit’s division manager, it is taking a number of steps in the right direction.  
“There is a calmness there which is quite intriguing, and there is this compassion which maybe adds to that calmness,” said Taylor. “The world will always be competitive, but there is this compassion which has become quite strong in the last three to five years.”
Taylor admitted there had been ‘a lot of conversations’ at IMEX about safety in the East African nation, rebranded for the show as ‘Remarkable Rwanda’, adding: “We have a huge perception to overcome.”
“The first thing everybody asks is safety, and I can look you in the eye and tell you it is absolutely safe; people walk everywhere at all times of day or night.”
He is determined to steer Rwanda towards its aim of becoming one of the most affluent countries on the continent, and also to progress from its original gorilla-centric tourism.
3,500 exhibitors come to IMEX each year (including tourist boards, convention bureaus, international hotel chains, airlines and destination management companies). They’re poised to do business with the 9,000 visitors (including almost 4,000 hosted buyers) who attend during three energetic and very inspirational days.

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