Feasibility Study to develop Religious Tourism in Rwanda

Five women acting on stage in a play, one on her knees looking to the sky

TradeMark East Africa and Rwanda Development Board engaged us to determine the feasibility of developing a new religious tourism sector. This is probably the largest coordinated set of initiatives to develop religious tourism in the World. Our Feasibility Study concepted, market tested, costed and forecast for visitation and economic benefits for seven proposals to develop religious and spiritual tourism across Rwanda.

Our work across the country included:

  • a Situation Analysis, featuring international review of the sector, consultation an audit of 18 potential sites and shortlisting of seven concepts;
  • detailed feasibility of seven proposals, including market testing proposals, staging plan, development costs, visitation and financial forecasting, social and economic impact assessment, risk assessment, analysis of funding from multilateral, bilateral, church and private sector, and recommendations;
  • detailed consultation with funders, and production of a Prospectus and recommendations

Religious and spiritual tourism is less developed in Africa than it is in the Middle East and Europe, but our study suggested it was a perfect match to be positioned alongside Rwanda’s nature tourism and community tourism sectors, and could even be internationally marketed with Uganda’s Namugongo Shrine.

While there are lots of academic papers on religious and spiritual tourism, there are not many pragmatic plans and proposals to develop it that are publicly available. Our Situation Analysis provided a practical report in the markets, products and operators behind religious tourism across the World, and assessed the potential of 20 sites across Rwanda. To view our Situation Analysis, click here https://www.linkedin.com/company/simon-mcarthur-and-associates/posts/?feedView=all&viewAsMember=true

Our research discovered that key international markets are looking for experiences that will counter the pandemics negative influences on the World, including a sense of disempowerment and hopelessness. The proposed tourism experiences were then concepted to address this unfulfilled need and align with Rwanda’s nature tourism and allure of gorilla trekking. We chose seven sites and shaped concepts for each one, working closely with stakeholders from multiple faiths.

We market tested six of the seven proposals with 422 respondents living in the countries representing key visitation to Rwanda. This allowed us to identify relative appeal, degree that each proposal would influence a visit to Rwanda and stay overnight in the region, and specific demographic and psychographic traits, giving us a strong profile for product refinement and target marketing.

We also asked 100 Rwanda tour operators for their feedback, and further refined the proposals.

We generated detailed development costs for each proposal, and with project marketing and management, was costed at USD22.8M. We generated detailed visitation forecasts for each proposal and determined that the collection could generate over 0.5M visitors per annum.

The feasibility was able to generate detailed assumptions for each proposed visitor experience revenue and direct costs, allowing for a comparative assessment of Gross Operating Profit across each proposed visitor experience. The feasibility also has worked up indirect costs and tax payable, allowing for the generation of a five year Net Profit forecast for the six businesses generating their own revenue. The proposals were forecast to generate USD1.46M per annum in Net Profit.

The economic impact was equally impressive. The six proposals were forecast to generate a Net Present Value of USD76.2M. By developing the six projects that received economic impact assessment, it is expected that the average over the 15 year project appraisal period would be the addition of 1,128 incremental jobs to the Rwandan economy due to increased visitor spending.

In addition to the Feasibility Report, we also produced an individual prospectus for each of the seven proposals:

The timing of this initiative, in the middle of a pandemic, presented Rwanda with a huge opportunity. If some of these opportunities were quickly funded and developed, they could assist to lead Rwanda’s recovery out of the World’s Pandemic generated recession and severely depressed tourism industry. Packaged together, Rwanda could lead Africa’s post COVID-19 tourism recovery, building on comparative success in combatting the virus.

It is now up to the Rwanda Development Board to source the funding and implement the project.

TradeMark East Africa