Rwanda is poised to launch what it refers to as the ‘COVID-19 recovery fund’ that will serve to finance economic recovery efforts post the virus pandemic.
Among the sectors slated to benefit from the recovery fund is the country’s tourism sector. It only makes sense since, the tourism sector is one of the most affected sectors along with the catering and hospitality sectors as well.
In so doing Rwanda, which actually called for an emergency East Africa Community (EAC) Heads of State meeting to deliberate regional response to the coronavirus pandemic, has again set precedent been the first country in the region to set aside recovery funds for the coronavirus aftermath.
The affected businesses across various economic sectors will be afforded access to low interest and even interest free loans. The loans are expected to help the business get back on their feet serving as operating capital.
Of these, it is businesses in the tourism and hospitality industry that have taken the worst hit and to help them recover, the Rwanda Development Board went ahead and participated in the G20 Tourism Ministers’ summit that was called by Saudi Arabia.
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) the tourism sector alone has suffered decline of 40 percent, that is almost half of its international business.
That figure represents the impact just until April, the OECD warns that if the virus persists, then the sector could fall well over 70 percent by September of this year.
The OECD was clear that intervention is needed because the most affected economic sectors are the travel and tourism sectors which together represent 10.3 percent of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
If you put into the factor the number of people employed by these two sectors, then it becomes evident the impact they have on any one country’s recovery post the cornavirus pandemic.
In fact, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) reports that an estimated 75 million jobs are at risk if these two sectors are not helped to recover. Such huge unemployment figures could easily spell global civil unrest and usher another economic crisis all over.
It is at this summit that Rwanda committed itself to creating the recovery fund and to prioritize the tourism sector among others to be beneficiaries of the fund.
Other than funding the recovery process, Rwanda also committed to ensuring safe travel that will rebuild both investor and consumer confidence. To do this, the country has agreed to strengthen regional and international coordination for safe travel of tourists in and out of the country.
A key aspect of the recovery process that the attending countries agreed to, includes continued collaboration and coordination with health and immigration authorities. It was agreed that the countries would minimize unnecessary restrictions for essentials such as travel passes for medical workers.
The road to recovery is still long and riddled with uncertainty but taking precautionary measures is the best way to prepare for the unknown that the future holds. Preparing a recovery fund is certainly a necessary move that serves to reassure stakeholders that the country is ready to rebuild and grow, post the coronavirus.