Have you ever considered Rwanda as a potential destination for business and corporate events? BI WORLDWIDE's corporate event planners Katrina Rannard and Teresa Allen are spending four nights in Rwanda to explore, learn and see for themselves whether it's a destination we would recommend for future client events. But before they jet off, we asked the general public what their opinions are of Rwanda to see what the overall perception is.
What do you think when you hear the word Rwanda?
According to our anonymous survey, it seems that there is a generational divide in peoples’ perceptions. Those who are old enough to remember the news coverage and reports of the genocide have quite a clouded judgement of Rwanda. When asked to write three words to describe Rwanda, the word ‘genocide’ cropped up the most, followed by ‘poor’, ‘poverty’, ‘corruption’ and ‘gorillas’ - a whopping 90% of the words had negative connotations. When asked to expand on their thoughts and comment on their desire to travel to Rwanda, the majority stated that they would prefer not to travel there. Quotes included: ‘I think it is not civilised and a third world country’, ‘Associated with civil war, trouble and corruption’, ‘Too much disaster on the news about it’, ‘Security and ebola’, ‘There has been nothing in the media about whether or not the fighting is over’.
Opportunity for Millennials to change perceptions
Katrina, Design Director, shares her thoughts on this: “These perceptions were quite surprising to discover as not only are some of them outdated, but some are quite simply untrue; for example the ebola outbreak was on the other side of Africa! It seems that for a high percentage of people (particularly in the Western world), thoughts of Rwanda are dominated by that of risk, violence and poverty. Whilst the genocide happened over 20 years ago, the atrocities clearly still ring in peoples’ ears. The country is vastly different to that time, but then no-one tends to publicise good news! I, for one, was unaware of the full extent of Rwanda’s progression in recent years so I believe there is a great opportunity to change perceptions.”
On the flip side, some Generation Y/Millennials already see Rwanda as an adventure destination for travellers and explorers, perhaps unaware of the unrest two decades ago, and our survey (results from 18-30 year olds) suggest that this age group would ‘love to go’.
Why Rwanda seems like a potential event destination for Business and Corporate Events
The survey results clearly showed mixed feelings with regards to the destination, but after extensive research both Katrina and Teresa’s own thoughts are purely of excitement and adventure. Katrina continues: “It seems that the more research we put into this project as a company, the more positively surprised we are. Rwanda may have been brought down onto its knees in 1994 but a phenomenal turn-around has taken place in the decades since. The country seems to be leaping forward at a staggering pace and in many ways is leading by example. This is why BI WORLDWIDE sees opportunity.”
“Nowadays the world is small; people are able to travel far and wide quite easily. We feel it is our role as fore-thinkers to explore untapped destinations such as Rwanda to assess the suitability for the MICE (Meetings Incentives Conferences and Events) market.”