Rwanda hosted this year’s Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) Executive Summit, 1-4 December. The annual event takes members of the SITE Board of Directors and SITE Foundation Board of Trustees to new and emerging destinations that can leverage the experience and knowledge of global industry leaders to grow its incentive travel business.
The 2018 event was sponsored by Rwanda Convention Bureau and its partners, and was also made possible through a grant from the SITE Foundation.
SITE President Annamaria Ruffini led a high level delegation, which included SITE Foundation President John Iannini. After their five-day stay in the East African country, the SITE team concluded that “Rwanda is incentive ready”.
Thirty members of the local Rwandan Incentive Travel industry – some of whom are Certified Incentive Specialists (CIS) – gathered to hear presentations on incentive travel fundamentals and trends, as well as SITE’s role in the industry. There followed panel discussions on Rwanda’s potential as an incentive travel destination from the perspectives of products and marketing.
The SITE delegation also visited key regions in the country where incentive travel products and services are being developed – Nyungwe Forest National Park and Volcanoes National Park – staying at the recently opened One & Only Nyungwe House and experiencing a thrilling, early morning Gorilla trek.
Commenting on the experience, Ruffini said, “Since the tragic events of the 90s, Rwanda has recovered remarkably and is fast becoming a leading light for women in leadership and sustainability – themes that have been key to my year as SITE President. I’m thrilled to see how the Business Events sector in Rwanda is being led by young women pursuing a vision for the country as a sustainable tourism destination powered by meetings, conferences and incentive travel experiences.”
Discussions were held with senior government officials including Clare Akamanzi, Chief Executive Officer and Belise Kariza, Chief Tourism Officer of the Rwanda Development Board; and Nelly Mukazayire, Chief Executive Officer and Frank Murangwa, director of MICE destination marketing of the Rwanda Convention Bureau.
SITE CEO Didier Scaillet, CIS, CITP added: “The country’s visionary development board understands how MICE/Business Events are cross-sectoral, bringing benefits to the country way beyond mere tourism revenue. The local leadership is undoubtedly committed to incentive travel and our five days in Rwanda have left us no doubt as to the country’s credentials as an incentive travel destination. We look forward to helping Rwanda position itself as the unique destination that it is.”
Recent SITE Executive Summits have taken place in Dubai, Slovenia and Ireland. For more information on hosting an Executive Summit in your destination, contact Estefani Acguirre at Sponsorship@SITEglobal.com.
SITE has 2,300 members in 84 countries, with 29 local and regional chapters.