Air Transport and Its Impact on the Tourism Industry in Rwanda: Case of RwandAir
The study focused on the air transportation and its impact on the tourism industry in Rwanda; the case of RwandAir. The study objectives were to identify the contributions of air transportation to the development of tourism industry in Rwanda; to establish the challenges facing the air transport sector and to propose strategic measures to mitigate the challenges. The study used a cross-sectional survey thus both the qualitative and quantitative approaches were applied. The study used closed-ended questionnaires, structured interview, as well as document review. Purposive sampling was used on the key managers of both RwandAir and Rwanda Development Board. The study targeted 700 international tourists and 200 domestic tourists (conveniently selected), as well as structured interview with 30 senior officers of RwandAir and 20 senior officers of RDB, hence making the total population to be 950 respondents. The study sample size was 274 respondents. However, after validating the returned questionnaires, only 240 questionnaires were found to be valid. It was revealed that RwandAir greatly contributes to tourism development in many ways such as marketing, job creation, transporting tourists, providing a convenient, quick and safe way to get into the country among others. It was revealed by the world bank that international tourism arrivals in 2016 was 932000 tourists bringing in 25.85 % of total exports and total imports and expenditure on travel service es was 11.99 % in Rwanda. The number of tourists’ arrivals was limited to arrivals by air. However, RwandAir and air transport in general faces changing oil prices, expensive jets, terrorism in neighbouring countries, limited funding, skills gap in aviation sector (lack of technical engineers and pilots), geographical location, inadequate infrastructure and to a great extent, lack of safety compliance. The strategies that can be adopted to improve air transport sector are: more funding to air transport industry by government; oil and energy negotiations with oil-producing countries; skills enhancement like training local pilots and engineers; improved airport infrastructure in Rwanda e.g. at Kigali international airport and other domestic airports; space agreements as well as benchmarking best airline companies like Qatar and emirates and others in the region. The study recommends tax concessions for the air transport, oil negotiations, opening up and re-development of the domestic airports in the country, reduced prices for incoming tourists using RwandAir, partnerships between government and private sector in developing air transport, increased training of aviation staff among others. It is believed that when these are done, then air transport will continue to positively transform tourism into a better and developing sector with sustained customer base hence national development.
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