It is a new dawn in the tourism sector in Rwanda as tourists begin to discover a new way of staying in the country and enjoying what it has to offer.
Recently, 23 golfers from IKOYI Club, Nigeria, visited Rwanda for a 10-day vacation to play golf and experience other tourist attractions around the country.
Of the 10 days they decided to spend five of them golfing at the exquisite Falcon Golf and Country Club, a home of golf in Rwanda since 2019 when the only second golf club in Rwanda, the Kigali Golf Club, was closed for reconstruction. The Falcon Golf Club is located on the shores of Lake Muhazi on the Gati Peninsula in the Rwamagana District.
The Nigerian group leader and former captain of the IKOYI Golf Club with 10,000 players and 2,800 golf sections, Tayo Babalakin, spoke to Taarifa on this memorable visit. “We really had a good time,” he said, adding, “this is our fourth time coming to Rwanda, but we said let’s play golf this time.” Also on the team was Jacob Erhabor, former CEO of Sonarwa, who was happy to return to Rwanda.
Golf is a contactless sport, but like all other sports practiced worldwide during the existing threat of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Falcon Golf Club is turning into an isolated bubble where no one can enter the facility without on Covid 19 to be tested, and with the help of the district clinics.
Various institutions such as the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the Ministry of Sports and the Rwanda Convention Bureau (RCB) were consulted and gave advice on how tourists should enjoy their stay in a safe environment.
The management of the Falcon Golf Club told Taarifa that RBC provided a staff member to assist throughout their stay and that local authorities were providing safety assistance to ensure the Covid bubble was maintained.
Our reporter Adrien Kubwayo attended the course to witness this new tourist experience. He says that when visitors were given a menu for their lunch after the game, they all tried a delicious tilapia from Lake Muhazi.
He noted, however, that more hotels are needed in the Rwamagana district as these tourists had to commute daily from Kigali to the Falcon Golf Club, a situation he believed would have made it more convenient if the tourists could stay near the golf club.
Falcon Golf Club executive director Michael Bayingana said Covid 19 is affecting all sectors of the country, but especially sports and entertainment companies that have had a lot of people gathering in one place.
May 2021, golfers in Rwanda who were evacuated after Covid-19 tests had the opportunity to end their trip with the Nigerian visitors for a round of golf.
The facility’s owner, Innocent Rutamu, who is also a golfer, told Taarifa that golf tourism has great potential for Rwanda if the foundations are in place.
“One of the most important conditions is to have at least three golf courses as golf tourists spend an average of 10 to 12 days in a country when they have a variety of golf courses,” he said, adding, “Rwanda has good weather”. golfing all year round. Other factors such as safety and security are already in place, so we have an advantage. “
Observers say tourism institutions should learn a thing or two about golf if they need to support cycling or basketball as well.
In fact, RDB CEO Clare Akamanzi spoke to The New Times and BBC last week that Rwanda is interested in repeating experiences like the recently concluded African Basketball League in order to increase and diversify tourism activity.
âThe first goal as a country is to become a sports tourism destination … with the resumption of tourism in our country and the fact that many tourists have postponed their visits and some have canceled their visits, many of the events have had to be postponed like finding the Commonwealth Forum many meetings take place online, we have to think about the coming years and increase the number of sporting events, âAkamanzi told BBC in mid-May 2021.
Meanwhile, Taarifa is privy to the information that The Sunshine Tour, the largest golf tour in Africa, has tried to get Rwanda on its course but has received minimal encouragement.
Once the Sun Shine Tour has a country within its circle, the country receives approximately 400 high-end tourists annually to attend the event. Kenya and Mauritius as well as some countries in southern Africa currently enjoy this advantage.
Another country that is looking to golf tourism is Kenya, and the country appears to be at an advanced stage.
Kenya had 2 million tourist arrivals in 2018 and the country is now focused on unlocking the huge potential of golf tourism, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala told golfers in February 2019.
Speaking at the prestigious Vipingo Ridge Baobab Course run by the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) in Kilifi County in February 2019, Balala promised to promote Kenya as a wonderful destination for golf tourism. “Rwanda doesn’t want to miss this boat,” Rutamu Taarifa said in 2020 when the Falcon Golf Course hosted the Rwanda Summer Golf Tournament for the domestic market.
According to a report published by Technavio.com, Global Golf Tourism Market 2017-2021, the global golf tourism market was a huge US $ 22.92 billion in 2016 and according to their research, this market will grow to US $ 44.6 billion by the end of 2021. Dollar amount.
The industry thrives when visitors meet local actors. For golf to develop in Rwanda, training in elementary school should begin with short-distance soccer fields and then have access to available facilities such as the Falcon Golf Club or the Kigali Golf Course. Unfortunately, this sport is still treated with stereotypes that it is a sport for the rich and the lazy.
If you know your potential, you usually don’t talk about it. If you meet them on the pitch and in the clubhouse, the conversations will light up, otherwise they usually keep it to themselves. It’s an intimate relationship.
Meanwhile, Nigerians have discovered a gem and they plan to return soon to learn more.