Chinese tourists are now able to directly book tour packages to Rwanda following the launch of the ‘Visit Rwanda’ online pavilion on Alibaba’s travel platform, Fliggy, which is accessed by over 500 million users in China.

This follows the official launch of the Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP), the first of its kind in Africa, by Rwandan president, Paul Kagame and Alibaba Group Executive Chairman and Founder, Jack Ma, on October 31, where the two agreed to multiple bilateral initiatives to promote Rwanda’s economy through increased cross-border trade, tourism and capacity building to empower the growth of the country’s digital economy.

The Fliggy platform allows Rwandan tour operators and hotels to aggressively create awareness and sell Rwandan tourism products and services to the Chinese outbound tourists.

Speaking on the development, CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, Clare Akamanzi, said: “China is the largest source of the global outbound tourist traffic and Chinese tourists spend the most in the world. The 131 million outbound Chinese tourists last year each spent, on average, US$726 per person on retail shopping while non-Chinese tourists spend, on average, US$486 per person.

“Tourism expenditure from China stood at US$261 billion in 2016, accounting for 21% of the world’s international tourism spending. Sadly, Africa accounted for only 2% of it. We believe that the ‘Visit Rwanda’ pavilion on Fliggy is one of the avenues that will lead to an increase in tourism traffic to Rwanda from China.”

Chairman of the Rwanda Chamber of Tourism, Aimable Rutagarama, added: “We are confident that trading tourism products on Fliggy provides an opportunity for the industry to efficiently penetrate the Chinese market. We will also earn more profits, as intermediaries will be bypassed and commissions reduced. I urge all tourism businesses to embrace this platform and package their services and products in a unique and innovative way to keep the destination attractive and competitive.”