Rwandan tourism: In six years, I grew my tour business from 10 to 100 vehicles

Posted on: November 22, 2023, by :

Joseph Kabera is the Managing Director of Premier Transport and Tour Services Company, Kigali. His company is into transport and tours. The success story of his company is a reflection of tourism business growth in Rwanda. In six years, his company has grown from 10 vehicles to 100, while the staff strength increased from 15 to 120. He spoke to Africa Travel Herald (ATH) in Kigali during the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) summit.

So, you are into transportation and tour business?
Before venturing into the business, what were you doing?
I was in the aviation industry. I was working for the national carrier, RwandAir. So, from there, I started doing my own business.
What informed your decision to leave paid employment and venture into travel and tours?
I saw a lot of opportunities and conducive environment for the sector within Rwanda. Actually it is the same industry, from aviation to travel and tours. I wanted to be in a related industry and having that experience in aviation and hospitality, I sort of saw the need to tap into the opportunities in the industry to do my own business.
How long has your company been operating and how would you describe your experience now as an employer of labour?
The whole thing is more than I expected.
In what sense?
In the sense that I was so much timid, very courteous, fearful of the unknown, but when I entered the industry as a business person, I found it massive and fascinating. So far it has given me exposure to the world and it has opened my eyes to see how vast the industry is and how I can explore the opportunities in it. It is very good; it is very wide and it has given me the opportunity to interact with the world.
How would you described the tourism traffic in Rwanda both for MICE and adventure and leisure?
Actually, Rwanda being a leading destinations for MICE in Africa, second only to Cape Town in South Africa, is actually growing at a very high pace.
The adventure tourism is also exploding. Recently, you heard that one Rwanda’s national parks, Nyungwe has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there is the safari, now we have the big five. So, in addition to MICE, we have a lot of adventure tourism. It is really big and very exciting. With the current visa regime in East Africa, it gives tourists coming the opportunity to visit neigbouring countries like Tanzania, and Rwanda is very safe and conducive for tourists to come and visit, and also invest. It is very clean and gives people the kind of package to come here and be able to stay.
How long have you been operating your business?
For now, six years.
When you started, how many staff do you have and how many now? Also, how many vehicles do you have when you started and how many do you have now?
When I started, I had only 10 vehicles, now we have 100 vehicles.
In six years?
Yes, and staff strength was around 15 when we started, now we are close to 120 staff but the majority of them are drivers. We grew from 15 to 120 within a period of six years. It is a very miraculous industry. Here one can expand easily, Rwanda being very hospitable, attractive environment.
We are very happy with the leadership fo the country for giving us a very conducive environment to operate.
You did very well in the last six years, now with the old visa policy, with the new visa policy of now visa for African countries, how do you see it impacting on your business?
The visa free policy, the AfCTAA policy will create a lot of movement within Africa. With people coming here visa free and having the trade barriers removed, it will certainly increase the traffic to Rwanda. These policies are opening up for people to travel to Rwanda and across Africa. For me, it is a big opportunity.
So, I won’t be surprised when I come back to Rwanda in the next one or tow years you would tell me you have 1000 vehicles…
Yes, that is my hope. Why not? I also intend to expand to the region to become a regional player.
Maybe you will see me come to Lagos for business.
Yes,why not?
It is possible.

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