Africa-Press – Rwanda. Rwanda says it is intensifying efforts that will put a focus on sports as an avenue to accelerate the country’s economic growth, by diversifying tourism offerings.
Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente made the observation on Friday afternoon while appearing before both chambers of Parliament, to among others, present the government’s achievements on trade with a focus on export promotion.
Based on the numbers, Ngirente said that in the previous year, the sports tourism industry generated over $6 million, accounting for 13 per cent of the total generated revenues earned from the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events) industry.
“This shows a positive return from the investments recently made in our sports sector,” Ngirente added, “And as a country, we intend to invest more not only for the leisure impact but also to increase the economic gains.”
The development, Ngirente pointed out, comes at a time when Rwanda is positioning itself as a regional sports tourism hub.
But as it vies for this position, he said that more investments are required including in the infrastructure of international sports facilities, which will enable the country to host global sports events.
For instance, Kigali has already hosted two, of the three, editions of NBA’s annual Basketball Africa League (BAL), the first contest hosted by the basketball superpower outside the USA.
Rwanda has also pitched itself as a major destination for cycling, volleyball, and other sports.
The country is also expected to host the next edition of BAL, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier, Afrobasket women 2023, and FIFA General Assembly, among other global sports events.
Just recently, Rwanda won hosting rights for the 2025 UCI Road World Cycling Championships, becoming the first African country to organise the world’s biggest cycling event since its inception in 1921.
“We find that there is a (tourism) niche market in sports, and we will continue to make investments in infrastructure so that we take advantage of this market,” the Prime Minister said.