rwanda tourism news

I Explored Rwanda's Hidden Gems With My Family — Here's Why You Should, Too

An inside look at the culture of Rwanda, why gorilla trekking will take your breath away, and how to plan your trip.

The battle-worn hippo trotted into the acacia trees, surprisingly light on its feet. Not exactly one of the dancers from Fantasia , but even with layers of scar tissue covering its side, the creature embodied grace and resilience in the bush. 

Less than 24 hours into our stay at Rwanda’s Akagera National Park — a swath of savanna, swamps, and lakes some 100 miles east of the capital, Kigali — my family and I had already become accustomed to the hippos. Scores of them dotted the surface of Lake Rwanyakazinga, home to Wilderness Magashi , an eight-suite, solar-powered tented camp on the shore. At night, though I was snug with hot-water bottles in our king-size bed, their harrumphs kept me awake — an insomniac’s dream. 

But seeing this solitary hippo on the move, on land, gave us all a sense of the animals’ true size and speed. “When hippos fight, they use their teeth like spears,” explained our soft-spoken Rwandan guide, Herman Nkusi, who, on a later game drive, found two incisors lying in a small grove. My son, Bobby, lifted one up and down like a barbell, the tooth nearly as long as his arm.

After the 1994 genocide — in which an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were murdered over a 100-day period — Akagera’s size was greatly reduced, as land was reallocated. And poaching was left unchecked, meaning much of its native wildlife was also lost. In 2010, the Rwanda Development Board and African Parks, a conservation nonprofit, joined forces to rehabilitate the reserve, which now covers 433 square miles. In 2015, lions were reintroduced, followed by rhinos in 2017. It is now possible to see the Big Five in Akagera, putting it in select company with destinations such as Kruger National Park in South Africa and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania. One evening at sundown, we happened upon a female rhino and her six-month-old calf, their precious horns bobbing up and down as they grazed for dinner. No other vehicles were around us.

The evolution of Akagera, like tourism in Rwanda overall, has been slow, deliberate, and remarkable, given the circumstances. Wilderness Magashi opened in May 2019; Magashi Peninsula, a four-suite companion property, is in development. Though we saw no other children during our stay, the camp felt very accommodating to families, with a small dipping pool and a nurturing staff. Nkusi, whose wife was expecting their first child, offered up his copilot seat and walkie-talkie to Bobby each afternoon — the quickest way to an eight-year-old boy’s heart.

Multigenerational travel, which has exploded post-COVID in tried-and-true safari destinations like Kenya and South Africa, is still nascent in Rwanda, in part because the minimum age for gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park is 15. But we discovered that going a little deeper, beyond the gorilla trekking, leads to some remarkable experiences, for all ages.

“We’ve raised three biological and three adopted children here, and found so many family-friendly activities beyond the gorillas,” said Alissa Ruxin, who, along with her husband, Josh, owns the Retreat by Heaven , a 20-room luxury hotel in Kigali’s central Kiyovu district. It is a divine, welcoming place to recharge after a long flight: Bobby gravitated to the shaded pool and the chessboard with gorilla pieces in the open-air reception area — an invitation to play, if ever there was one.

Ruxin suggested biking in the new Nyandungu Urban Wetland Eco-Tourism Park or ziplining at the Fazenda Sengha recreation center on Mount Kigali as day excursions. But our adventures took a more sartorial turn. Bobby, who loves dressing up, had a beaded bracelet custom-sized at Moshions , a gender-neutral Kigali boutique run by the energetic, supremely stylish Moses Turahirwa, who ran upstairs to their workshop to get the fit just so. Moshions is one of several emerging brands — others include K’tsobe, a brass jewelry brand by Sarah Legrand, and Asantii, a contemporary women’s line founded by Maryse Mbonyumutwa — with stores and ateliers open to visitors, making fashion here accessible and welcoming. 

Through her larger enterprise, Pink Mango, Mbonyumutwa employs around 1,000 people (80 percent of them are women) to produce clothing for not only Asantii but also other global brands, white-label. One morning, she led us around two of her airplane-hangar-esque factories in Kigali’s “Special Economic Zone,” an industrial area 30 minutes from the city center. “We’ve got a training section for embroidery here, and then we also work with cooperatives of women in rural areas,” she said as a nearby employee finished work on a white Asantii blouse. 

At one factory, we toured a daycare and kindergarten run by Pink Ubuntu — Pink Mango’s social-impact arm — which opened in 2021 to support the children of female employees. Bobby told Mbonyumutwa about the similarities to his former school back home (the cots for nap time, ABCs written on the wall). As we left, I noticed block letters running above the cubbyholes. They spelled out "Amazing Things Happen When You Try."

“Are we sure this is a good idea?”

My husband, Rob, was wondering why Bobby was leading the charge at the Canopy Walkway: a gently swaying suspension bridge 230 feet above the treetops of Nyungwe National Park. Kids as young as six are permitted to cross the 525-foot-long structure, one of the park’s marquee attractions, along with some 310 bird species, hiking trails, waterfalls, and chimpanzee treks. In September 2023, Nyungwe, which spans 252,000 acres of forest in Rwanda’s southwestern corner, was named a UNESCO World Heritage site — the country’s first.

After descending 45 minutes down the Igishigishigi trail — the path all travelers must follow, accompanied, to the walkway and back — Bobby was determined to be the first one to cross the bridge. And truth be told, I didn’t want to go first. “Baby steps!” I shouted to him as we all made the crossing, sending up a prayer that an afternoon shower wouldn’t appear, as they sometimes do in November, which is rainy season. 

Rivulets of sweat poured off my palms. “We did it! ” I exclaimed as I grabbed Rob and Bobby’s hands on the other side. Unlike mine, they were as cool as cucumbers. 

Coming off that adrenaline rush, we collapsed in our plush, earth-toned suite at the 22-room One&Only Nyungwe House , a cluster of wooden villas and a main house with soaring ceilings and a grand fireplace, surrounding a heart-stoppingly beautiful tea plantation. Our time there was short, but sweet: Rob and I rose at 4:30 a.m. to go on a five-hour chimp-trekking excursion (grueling, definitely not for the kids) while Bobby took a cooking and painting class in the lobby, with the fields for inspiration. Later on, we all gathered with women from the local Nyungwe Cultural Village cooperative , who harvest tea for a living. They taught us how to sort the thick, healthy green leaves into giant baskets strapped onto our backs. When nature is at your fingertips, a kids’ club is superfluous. 

“You have to mimic the sound that you are hearing,” explained Kadiara King’ai, manager of guest services at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. We were touring the fund’s state-of-the-art Ellen DeGeneres Campus , inaugurated in 2022 on the outskirts of Volcanoes National Park, a 62-square-mile patch of rain forest in Rwanda’s northwest. Designed using local volcanic stone, the contemporary campus is part research and education center, part interactive museum — and a brilliant place for children to engage with conservation. 

Bobby was at the “gorilla chat” display, where you can learn how the animals communicate. After listening to recordings of them laughing, crying, singing, and beating their chests, we each took our turn, breaking down our inhibitions by trying to copy them. We wandered into a recreation of Dian Fossey’s cabin, which displays some of the legendary primatologist’s personal effects, as well as a model of a gorilla skeleton next to a human one. King’ai even took us to a separate lab, where research is still being done on the thousand or so mountain gorillas left in their wild, to show us brown paper bags filled with their frozen poop, which reveal many tidbits of biological information — including whether or not the animals are stressed.

After hours of learning about the animals at the campus, telling Bobby that he wouldn’t be able to see them up close was not an easy conversation. The displays profiling Digit, one of Dian Fossey’s favorite gorillas, had made quite an impression. But I gently explained that there would be plenty of other things for him to do at each of our hotels — archery and a drumming lesson at One&Only Gorilla’s Nest , which also happens to have a spectacular infinity pool — as well as games, coloring, and endless croissants at Singita Kwitonda Lodge , both of which are within 15 minutes or so of the park. It was time for Dad and me to be alone, for a bit.

Gorilla trekking can be an all-day affair; visitors are each assigned a family group on the morning of the trek, and go where they go. Once you reach the gorillas, you have an hour in their presence. I wasn’t prepared for some of the hiking hazards: the mud, the fire ants, the stinging nettles. But once we reached the Hirwa group — a family of 17 with a rare set of rambunctious male twins — my adrenaline kicked in. It was go time. 

One of the twins reached into the ground, then pulled out a handful of ants and licked his fingers clean. Two juveniles spun in circles around a bamboo tree as the silverback came over to supervise. I noticed one smaller, slower gorilla taking cover from the rain in the underbrush, its rheumy eyes displaying a world-weariness that the younger, more nimble animals didn’t seem to have. Turns out, she was Kibyeyi: at 49, one of the oldest female gorillas in the park. I made sure to tell Bobby all about her when I got back. 

How to Book a Trip to Rwanda

Mark Lakin, founder and CEO of the Legacy Untold , is a safari specialist and member of T+L’s Travel Advisory Board. Lakin and his team can plan a multi-stop itinerary, arrange car and helicopter transfers, meals, meet-and-greets with designers, and trekking excursions. 

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Read the original article on Travel & Leisure .

Courtesy of One&Only

Gorillas Just Part of the Mix: To Expand, Nature-Based Tourism in Rwanda Needs Other Activities Too

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Gorilla in Virunga National Park, Rwanda.

Photo: Rwanda Development Board

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Nature-based tourism generates 80% of Rwanda’s tourist revenue but constraints to expanding gorilla trekking mean developing tourism based on sports, medical facilities, education, water-sports, urban exploration, and adventure, could help
  • New World Bank analysis estimates that 1,328 new jobs could be created for every $1 million injected by nature-based tourism into the Rwandan economy
  • Total financing of $97.5 million to $107.7 million is forecast as being required for the sustainable management of the natural resources, ecosystems, and biodiversity that underpin nature-based tourism from 2019 to 2030

Daniel Kanamugire has been in the tourism industry for close to 20 years. He has “seen it all,” as he puts it. The 52-year-old father of three took on a driving job in a tour company soon after demobilizing from the army in 2002. Five years later, he’d made enough money to acquire his own fully fitted, eight-seater tourist truck and decided to start his own business.

“Although we’ve come a long way, just when we thought we were firmly on track and it was time to reap the fruits of the many years of hard work we’d invested in this industry, then this thing COVID-19 came,” Kanamugire said.  

Despite major obstacles like COVID, Rwanda’s tourism sector has been a driver of economic growth in recent years—one characterized by job creation, an emerging value chain, and growing investments. Over the last decade, it has mobilized investment from local and foreign investors and created thousands of jobs, all while creating growing international and local markets.

Following the pandemic and its socio-economic effects, the sector exhibited resilience and recovery as the economy re-opened. “Thanks to God, today things seem to be picking up. We have recovered our foreign clientele and are trying to diversify the market to entice more visitors and make up for the loss incurred during almost two years of lockdown,” said Kanamugire.

According to the World Bank’s 20 th edition of the Rwanda Economic Update , Nature-Based Tourism (NBT), a sub-sector of tourism, bears the potential to continue to increase Rwanda’s economic growth. NBT generates an estimated 80% of the foreign exchange earned from the whole tourism sector. Its contribution to job creation is quantifiable: For every $1 million (about Rwf 1,050 million) that Nature-Based Tourism activities inject into the Rwandan economy, the Update says, 1,328 new jobs are created.

However, the report says that for the sector to maintain its trajectory, measures are needed to overcome the setbacks the sector has suffered and the long-standing challenges it faces. Key bottlenecks to its growth include limited diversification, with a significant portion of revenue coming from gorilla trekking.

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Gorillas plus …

While Rwanda’s gorilla trekking is a unique tourist attraction, it faces competition from other wildlife destinations in the region, as well restrictions on the numbers of permits issued each year because of the need to preserve habitat for the gorillas, and their population, limiting Rwanda’s ability to raise prices or increase the number of tourists involved. Sector analysts say there is therefore a need to diversify Rwandan tourism to reduce its overdependence on gorilla trekking.

Some of the other challenges identified in the report include the risk of environmental degradation, especially a decline in natural vegetation and the deterioration of forests that threaten to reduce wildlife populations.

A decline in the ability of people in surrounding communities to remain economically sustainable could also exacerbate pressure on protected wildlife areas. And external factors, such as COVID-19, have illustrated that a dramatic decline in demand for tourism can be generated by health emergencies. Similarly, warming temperatures, resulting from climate change, are likely to reduce tourist demand in tropical regions and further degrade natural habitats.

More private investment urged

Among the recommendations made to mitigate these challenges, foster growth, and increase the economic impact of the sector, the Rwanda Economic Update recommends an increase in private sector investment to promote nature-based tourism. It forecasts that total financing of $97.5 million to $107.7 million is required for it from 2019 to 2030.

“It is important to rely on diversified sources of financing for both the public and private sector, including debt and non-debt instruments, and to establish the policy framework required to encourage investment in Nature-Based Tourism,” it says.

Expert analysis shows that increasing the amount of investment placed in natural capital, in order to support the sector, would improve fiscal sustainability and growth, whether the resources are primarily provided by public or private sources. But, importantly, the analysis maintains that encouraging increased private investment in NBT through public-private partnerships would raise GDP more than relying solely on public resources to do so.

Among the ways the private sector can be involved are through the outsourcing of investment and provision of management services in state-owned protected areas, or licensing commercial activities adjacent to these areas.

Sustainability-linked financing instruments, non-debt solutions tied to carbon markets, and private sector-led equity investments are some of the proven approaches to accessing private finance for Nature Based Tourism.

Bonds have been issued based on conservation activities or green investments, and funds established to support biodiversity and climate change adaptation and to prepare for catastrophes. Payments have been made to reward reductions in emissions for avoiding deforestation and forest degradation.

The Economic Update urges the adoption of strategic, tailored activities to diversify and expand NBT.

Given the constraints that exist to expanding gorilla trekking, the report recommends developing new tourism activities, including tourism based on sport, medical, education, water, urban exploration, and adventure sports. It says it will be important to modify policies that harm biodiversity, for instance by removing subsidies that damage the environment, and promote the private sector provision of environmental benefits.

World Bank in Rwanda

REPORT | February 2023 Rwanda Economic Update: Making the Most of Nature Based Tourism in Rwanda

PRESS RELEASE Rwanda Economic Update: Nature-based Tourism Holds Tremendous Economic Potential

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Rwanda’s Tourism Sector On A Full Rebound Post Covid-19

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A panel discussion during WTD 2022 celebrations. Officials and players appreciated the recovery process of the tourism and hospitality sector.

Rwanda’s tourism sector is on a path to full recovery more than two years after the Covid-19 pandemic had a major impact on the sector, with more than 80 percent of the players reporting a rebound.

This was revealed on Tuesday during the celebration of World Tourism Day 2022 which was marked on September 27 at Kigali Convention and Exhibition Village (KCEV).

The event, organized by Mastercard Foundation, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Private Sector Tourism Chamber brought together players and stakeholders in the tourism and hospitality sector who shared their experiences.

According to Ariella Kageruka, Head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB, today more that 80% of the business in the sector which were affected by the pandemic are on a path to recovery- a development that gives a positive forecast for the industry.

“The recovery of the sector has been a deliberate effort, working on new innovations and ensuring that we remain operational in different ways. We are happy that even during the pandemic the MICE sector somehow continued to operate,” Kageruka said.

rwanda tourism news

Ariella Kageruka, head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB    

She pointed out Rwanda’s ability to host meetings and conferences even during the pandemic was key in keeping the sector going while efforts by the government and partners ensured that the sector picked itself up as the pandemic subsided.

“If you recall well, even as the Covid-19 pandemic went on, Rwanda managed to host international conferences, concerts and events related to sports, which is was not a coincidence,”

“Rwanda put an effort in the infrastructure and other facilities that enabled that to happen and the partners and organisers of these activities were convinced by what we were doing to ensure the safety and protection of everyone,” Kageruka said.

With the sector recovering steadily, Kageruka said that there are many activities lined up ahead including hosting The Basketball Africa League (BAL) tournament again as well as the Veterans World Cup and UCI Road World Championships in 2025, all of which present a positive outlook for the sector.

Speaking during the event which was celebrated under the theme “Rethink Tourism,” Frank Gisha Mugisha, Director General of Rwanda Chamber of Tourism said that Rwanda is positioning itself to tap into the available opportunities as things get back to normal.

rwanda tourism news

Frank Gisha Mugisa, head of the tourism chamber.

“Before the Covid-19 outbreak, 2019 had proved to be the best year for the sector, with over 165,000 people working in the industry, but all that was set back. Over 18, 000 jobs were affected, including over 8,000 women and youth who lost their jobs,” Mugisha said.

He pointed out that as the sector recovers, players in the industry have to do things differently, factoring in innovation and diversifying into other untapped areas, especially domestic tourism, to be less vulnerable to future shocks.

Théodore Nzabonimpa, who owns Beyond the Gorillas Experience Ltd, a tourism agency, said that there are many opportunities for people to tap into, including trekking of mountains and hills, cultural sites and many more which can increase domestic tourism.

Ngabo Karegeya, the founder of Ibere rya Bigogwe Tourism company presented the opportunities he identified in his home area, where he entices people to visit Bigogwe area and experience traditional lifestyles based on cattle keeping and visit the rock known as Ibere rya Bigogwe.

Sector on a rebound

RDB figures show that in the first six months of this year it earned $11 million in revenues from parks, while in 2021 and 2020 it earned $6 million and $5.9 million, respectively. In 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, the parks generated $21.9 million.

The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted tourism, with numbers dropping by over 70 percent. The numbers now show optimism for a recovery, with revenues increasing by 25% year-on-year, from $131 million to $164 million.

Kageruka said that there is hope that tourism will recover from the effects of Covid-19 quickly, buoyed by the growth in domestic tourism where more Rwandans are showing more interest in touring the country.

In general, tourism is a sector that has already shown that it has a big impact on Rwanda and Rwandans because in 2019, it earned more than $500 million, up from $300 million in 2014. At the same time, the jobs it provided went from 89 thousand to 164,000.

Supporting the hospitality sector to grow

Speaking at the event, Rica Rwigamba, the Country Head, Mastercard Foundation highlighted how investing in the tourism and hospitality sector cannot only contribute to its growth but also provide thousands of jobs to your people, citing ‘Hanga Ahazaza’ as an example.

“Just five years ago, the Mastercard Foundation announced an investment of $50 million with the aim of increasing employment opportunities for young people while expanding the tourism and hospitality sector in Rwanda,”

“Today, we are happy. We are happy because during the past five years, we have worked with 14 organizations represented here today, and with the great support from the Government of Rwanda through the Rwanda development Board to achieve that goal,” Rwigamba said.

She pointed out that they had a bold target of equipping 30,000 young women and men with the skills they need to transition into jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector.

Despite the challenges along the way, Rwigamba said the programme has been able to create the next generation of young leaders in the tourism sector who are now at the forefront of the recovery process.

rwanda tourism news

Rica Rwigamba, country head, Mastercard Foundation.

rwanda tourism news

Michaella Rugwizangoga, Chief Tourism Officer, RDB

rwanda tourism news

Sports journalist Usher Komugisha spoke about the potential of sports tourism.

rwanda tourism news

Edmund Kagire

Basketball: legacy tournament is back, president kagame appoints attachés to uganda, egypt in new rdf promotions, related posts, rwanda puts emphasis on learning through play methodology, peter kamasa salutes his team after treble, diplomat designs path to connect rwanda producers to..., a look back at the bal 2024, rwanda, china relation to yield more at africa..., from music videos with laptop webcam to fronting..., minister of state jeanine munyeshuli dismissed from the..., local organization starts psoriasis awareness campaign, bandebereho: meet the nyabihu men who vowed to..., president kagame in south korea for first korea-africa....

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Rwanda Tourism Week

RWANDA TOURISM WEEK 2022

26th November to 3rd December 2022

rwanda tourism news

KCEV and KCC

26/11/2022 - 03/12/2022, #rtw2022 theme, “adopting innovative approaches to boost intra africa travel as a drive for tourism business recovery”.

This year’s theme focuses on rebuilding Tourism after 2 years of challenging times that severely hit the Tourism sector by setting a vision and long-term goals, that will strengthen the Tourism industry.

We are spotlighting how Tourism can increasingly contribute to economies , inclusively foster sustainability and innovations, and reconnecting Africans to each other and the rest of the world.

Frank Gisha Mugisha Director General- Rwanda Chamber of Tourism

Rwanda Tourism Chamber

WHY #RTW 2022?

The launch of the maiden Rwanda Tourism Week.The event, scheduled to take place from 28th November – 3rd December 2022 at Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village (KCEV) and Kigali Convention Centre (KCC), carries the theme “ Adopting Innovative Approaches to Boost Intra Africa Travel as a drive for Tourism Business Recovery . ”

Why #RTW 2022

The launch of the maiden Rwanda Tourism Week.The event, scheduled to take place from 26th November – 3rd December 2022 at Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village (KCEV) and Kigali Convention Centre (KCC), carries the theme “ Adopting Innovative Approaches Boosting Intra-Africa travel as a drive for tourism Businesses Recovery ” and aims to focuses on rebuilding Tourism after 2 years of challenging times that  severely hit the Tourism sector by setting a  vision and long-term goals, that will  strengthen the Tourism industry

Photo Competition - 15th- 27th November 2022

Photo competition was created to enable storytellers (local and  international photographers) to showcase Rwanda’s diverse tourism  attractions , beautiful scenery through photography.

This is an opportunity for the  talented photographers to  raise  awareness on Rwanda as a destination through various social media  platforms.

Invited local photographers and creative houses will register on RTW  online platforms, take pictures, and post anything related to nature,  travel, tourism attractions, wildlife, heritage, and culture that will  highlight Rwanda’s wonders. It serves as a motivator for people to  travel to Rwanda.

Fam Trips - 24th - 30th November 2022

Rwanda Tourism Week presents the best  opportunity to explore Rwanda and it’s beautiful  attractions though an exclusive fam trip. The first  hand travel experience that will give you the  highlights of the destination.

The invited participants and international tour  operators will sample packaged Rwanda Tourism  products and learn more about Rwanda in  general in a 4-days package.

Restaurant Week -25th November - 3rd December 2022

Restaurant Week is a promotional culinary event that takes place  during the Tourism week. Dinners have the opportunity to enjoy their  experience at the top restaurant for a discounted and set-price.

In 2021, Rwanda Tourism week celebrated the best fine dining  restaurants by inviting restaurants to offer special rates to visitors  during the week of the event. It attracted a number of people who  turned into loyal clients.

Golf for Conservation - is 27th November 2022

Golf for conservation t was conceived to match the community  elites (Business) with the Investment Forum taking place during  the first 2 days of the Rwanda Tourism week.

Apart from the competition and profit driver at the golf course,  Golf is the best sport for networking experience. It would attract  the delegates from the investment forum to  meet the  community elites to have B2B sessions.

Tourism Business Forum 1st - 2nd December 2022

The Rwanda Chamber of Tourism, along with other players in the  Tourism industry, will host the first international business Forum  conference of it’s kind during the Rwanda Tourism Week .

The conference will bring together actors from the tourism  industry, experts and specialists, the leaders of key local and  regional businesses, financial institutions, and organizations in  order to strengthen and speed up the sector’s economic  recovery.

Exhibition - December 1st - 3rd 2022

The exhibition during Rwanda Tourism Week has been a crucial  platform for connecting potential exhibitors across different countries  and categories with prospective customers, resulting in business  connections.

This year’s exhibition will be a three day event that will give invited  exhibitors the opportunity to showcase and spotlight the tourism and  hospitality products along the value chain as well as host traditional  games and other entertaining activities.

The exhibition will attract 200 local, regional and international tourism  and hospitality operators as well as conservation institutions from  around the world.

Fashion Show - 2nd December 2022

On December 2nd, RTW 2022 hosts a live informal fashion show that highlights the innovation of renown local and  regional clothing brands.

The event is organized to empower and inspire women ,  young talented minds working in the creative and fashion  industry to showcase authentic designs and promote the  Rwandan creative industry.

Gala Diner - 3rd December 2022

• 100 Exhibitors • 10+ Countries represented • 50+ buyers from East Africa and the continent • 1,000 trade visitors from the region and the continent • Meeting potential buyers in 3 days • 3,000 attendees with direct influence on purchase

• Conservation agencies • Tourist Activity Providers • Cultural Tourism enterprises • Arts and Crafts suppliers • Travel and Tourism Technology companies

• Transport companies • Tourism sector suppliers • Community based Tourism Enterprises • Car Rentals • Convention Bureau • Professional Conference Organizers • Fashion company • Made in Rwanda tourism products

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Unlocking Rwanda's Tourism Potential: A Journey Through Sports Partnerships

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and Agencies

In a bid to harness the power of sports in promoting tourism, Rwanda has been actively engaging in partnerships with major European football clubs, a strategy that took center stage at the World Travel and Tourism Summit held in Kigali from November 1 to 3.

The summit, which saw global experts and industry leaders gather to explore innovative approaches to boost tourism, shed light on Rwanda's unique approach to attracting visitors. One of the key topics of discussion was how sports, particularly football, can play a pivotal role in promoting the country's tourism sector.

The African nation has been steadily forging partnerships with renowned European football clubs, and the latest addition to this list is Bayern Munich. Just two and a half months after the signing of a partnership between the German football giant and "Visit Rwanda, " the impact is already visible. Young players from the new Bayern Munich academy in Kigali are up at the crack of dawn, diligently training on the pitch.

This collaboration with Bayern Munich marks Rwanda's third such partnership with a major football club, following successful deals with Arsenal and PSG. While the exact financial details of these partnerships are confidential, each agreement includes provisions for visibility on jerseys, advertising boards, and players' content on social media platforms. The ultimate goal is to attract new visitors to Rwanda by leveraging the global fan base and popularity of these clubs.

The results are already evident, with Rwanda welcoming over a million visitors in 2022 and generating nearly $445 million in tourism revenue. However, the return on investment from these sports partnerships can be challenging to quantify and has faced criticism from some quarters.

Nevertheless, Michaella Rugwizangoga, in charge of tourism at the Rwanda Development Board, staunchly defends the strategy. "Working with sports clubs is the positioning we have chosen as a country. The proportion of investment that goes into these partnerships is minimal compared to the revenue the country collects through tourism. Today, tourism accounts for 10% of our GDP. But without marketing, we have no tourism, and without tourism, we have no revenue to reinvest," she asserts.

Rwanda's commitment to utilizing sports as a catalyst for tourism growth goes beyond partnerships. The country has been investing in infrastructure to attract sporting events from the continent, such as the ongoing expansion of the Amahoro Stadium. This ambitious project, estimated at $165 million, will increase its seating capacity to 45,000, further positioning Rwanda as a destination for sports enthusiasts.

As Rwanda continues to explore innovative ways to drive its tourism sector, it's evident that the nation's unique approach of uniting sports and travel promotion is making waves in the global arena, ultimately benefiting both the nation's economy and the international football community.

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Meet in Rwanda

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Partnerships

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Known as the land of a thousand hills, Rwanda’s stunning scenery and warm, friendly people offer unique experiences in one of the most remarkable countries in the world. It is blessed with extraordinary biodiversity, with incredible wildlife living throughout its volcanoes, montane rainforest and sweeping plains.

Travellers come from far and wide to catch a glimpse of the magnificent gorillas, yet there is so much more to see and experience.

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The Great Rift Valley

The west of Rwanda forms a branch of the Great Rift Valley known as the Albertine Rift. It has many unique, endemic species and is bursting with life.

Chimpanzees, golden monkeys and other primates live alongside hundreds of brightly-coloured birds, orchids and butterflies.

And that is only scratching the surface…

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  • Responsible Tourism

As guardians of many iconic species, Rwanda is committed to safeguarding their existence within the four National Parks.

We are constantly working to ensure we can live in sustainable harmony with our environment, with a clean and green mindset. We banned plastic bags in 2008, and our lands are possibly the cleanest in Africa thanks to efforts throughout every community.

Ten percent of the income derived from gorilla, safari and other tourist permits, as well as park fees, is spent in partnership with local communities to change lives for the better.

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Epic Scenery

Rwanda’s dramatic vistas are endless, with a fresh perspective around every corner.

Our country is full of beauty and managing to explore it all is easy, thanks to an excellent road network linking the core areas.

Visitors can rest assured the country is safe as well as stunning – Rwanda was rankedthe9th safest country in the world by the World Economic Forum.

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Vibrant Culture

Warm and friendly, Rwandans are also respectful, thoughtful and committed to the idea of progress, starting at the grass roots and running all the way to the top.

From the ancient kingdom to the modern day, creativity is something to be celebrated, whether through traditional dance, unique architecture or works of art.

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Rwanda is ranked as the second easiest place to do business in Africa by the World Bank and has been awarded for its leadership in tourism and economic competitiveness by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and the World Economic Forum respectively.

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Paving the Way

The German carmaker has just opened an assembly plant in Rwanda, which will create up to 1,000 jobs.

In a new chapter of economic transformation, VW is also spearheading community car sharing and ride-hailing by smartphone.

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Tech Incubator

Rwanda is an ideal tech incubator, thanks to its compact size and appetite for innovation.

We welcome pioneering initiatives such as that by Silicon Valley company Zipline, which now delivers critical blood products to rural medical clinics across our mountainous lands.

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Discover an area in Kigali for world-class universities and think tanks to mingle with technology companies, helping drive private sector growth.

Innovation City is anecosystem linking high tech industry, research and education with capital investment, which aims to create jobs and reduce our current account deficit.

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Discover why we are the second fastest growing economy in Africa,and prepare to enjoy the opportunities accrued from the free trade agreements that we™ve signed with over 50 countries.

Designated serviced land is provided for small and large scale industrial development, as well as reliable, quality infrastructure, competitive fiscal and non-fiscal regulations and streamlined administration procedures.

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Rwanda is an excellent hub for meetings and events, with world-class facilities such as the Kigali Convention Centre which is conveniently located close to Kigali International Airport and offers a premium environment for regional and international conventions, exhibitions, festivals, meetings and other events.

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Rwanda's Tourism Revenue Hit $620 Million in 2023

Rwanda's tourism revenue rose by 36 percent from $445 million in 2022 to reach $620 million in 2023 (approx: Rwf798 billion), as stated in the 2023 Rwanda Development Board (RDB) annual report.

ALSO READ: Rwanda tourism revenue more than doubled to $445m in 2022

The growth generated from 1.4 million visitors indicates that the sector has surpassed 2019 revenues, at a recovery rate of 124 percent from the hurdles of Covid-19 pandemic.

As a result of the country's efforts to promote domestic tourism, this section increased to $47.7 million, contributing to increased visits to national parks which generated $35.79 million in 2023, the report adds.

For instance, the Volcanoes National Park registered the highest increase of 38 percent in visitors, followed by Akagera National Park which increased by 24 percent, and Nyungwe National Park by 10 percent.

Nyungwe National Park was declared a World Heritage site in 2023.

Consequently, RDB's revenue sharing scheme with communities surrounding the national parks saw Rwf2 billion disbursed in different projects including 54 projects in agriculture sector, 43 infrastructure projects, 8 projects aimed at supplying equipment for rural shops, housing, and artisans, as well as 6 projects for community enterprises.

Michaella Rugwizangoga, Chief Tourism Officer, RDB, said the growth comes as a yield of strategies to position Rwanda as a unique high-end, low-volume, eco-tourism destination, and conservation efforts.

She noted that the country has consistently participated in top global tourism business fairs over the past 20 years, including the ITB Berlin, We are Africa, ILTM (Singapore, Cannes, and Virtuoso) where Rwandan travel agencies engage with tourism buyers.

"Rwanda's capacity to attract top hospitality global brands such as One&Only, Singita, Radisson, and Marriott, the promotional role played by Visit Rwanda partnerships, as well as incentive opportunities for local and international investors are also key factors for such incredible growth."

Going forward, Rugwizangoga said they anticipate continuous growth as indicated by the performance of national parks in the first quarter of 2021, despite being a low season, the upcoming high season will also yield more.

"We want to continue attracting top hospitality brands, diversify the offerings and products, and offer more leisure products targeted to families."

Despite the government's regulation move on closing time for nightlife, the leisure segment of tourism increased by 48 percent compared to 2022 and accounts for $236 million of total revenue. It increased by 19 percent to pre-pandemic level.

When it comes to the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events (MICE) industry, Rwanda recorded $95 million in revenue in 2023, from 160 events that attracted 65,000 delegates.

Experts in the MICE industry note that through investments in infrastructure and promotional strategies, the safety and stability the country enjoys, and the visa-free regime, Rwanda continues to emerge as one of the top destinations in Africa.

The revenue generated in 2023 might be a step closer to achieving the $800 million revenue target by 2024 from $400 million in 2017, as highlighted under the National Strategy of Transformation (NST1), the government's seven-year (2017-2024) strategy that sets out plans for achieving its larger picture vision for economic development.

While the target was set before the onset of the pandemic, Rugwizangoga said the sector's recovery is impressive and demonstrates its resilience.

"The sector representing 10 percent of Rwanda's GDP can reach the target if we continue to deepen our efforts, increase the visitors' length of stay, sell Rwanda internationally as one destination, and develop more religious tourism-related products, and culture and heritage products."

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Promoting a culture of excellence

The hospitality industry faces the challenge of poor service delivery which has been highlighted by many people, RDB efforts geared at addressing this issue saw 400 entities inspected to ensure quality standards and service delivery.

Additionally, 275 entities were monitored to ensure regulation compliance while 15 hotels were re-assessed for star rating.

Commenting on the overall economic performance under the RDB mandate, CEO Francis Gatare said priority investments were targeted in key sectors like green economy, infrastructure, ICT, health, and conservation to foster inclusive growth and resilience.

Read the original article on New Times .

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Rwanda’s 2024 Election: What to Know

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By Abdi Latif Dahir

Reporting from Nairobi, Kenya

Why does this election matter?

Who is running, and who is likely to win, how does rwanda vote, when will we find out the results, where can i find out more information.

Rwanda’s presidential and parliamentary elections this year are taking place three decades after the genocide in which some 800,000 people were killed.

President Paul Kagame, who helped end the bloodshed, has been in power ever since and is expected to win again in this election, which takes place on July 15. Under his rule, the Central African nation of Rwanda has achieved significant economic strides and become a leading contributor of troops to the United Nations’ peacekeeping forces. But critics say Mr. Kagame has also overseen a repressive state accused of widespread human rights violations and where power and wealth are reserved for his ethnic Tutsi elites.

Oda Gasinzigwa, in an orange shift, and Paul Kagame, in a suit, sitting at a table as he hands over a folder with papers.

The election is taking place against the backdrop of rising tensions with the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. Mr. Kagame has accused Congolese officials of backing Hutu rebels who fled after committing genocide in 1994 and who he says plan on returning to finish what they started. Mr. Kagame has, in turn, been accused of sowing chaos in eastern Congo by backing rebel forces who have carried out massacres and displaced tens of thousands of people in the country.

The election season began as the president promoted his country’s readiness to receive migrants deported from Britain — a contentious plan that may never come to fruition, policy analysts and opposition leaders say. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has delayed the first deportation flights until after the July 4 elections in Britain.

Mr. Kagame, 66, is expected to win a fourth term, according to observers. (There are no independent polls in Rwanda.) In 2015, he oversaw a referendum that changed term limits , ensuring that he can extend his tenure until 2034.

He won in 2017 with almost 99 percent of the vote in an election that observers said was rigged. The arrest and prosecution of opposition members, the intimidation of activists and accusations that many voters were forced to choose Mr. Kagame all pointed to voting that was not free or fair, independent observers and rights groups said.

So far, two candidates — Frank Habineza, the leader of the opposition Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, and Diane Rwigara , an opposition figure barred from the 2017 race — have submitted their presidential candidacy papers to the National Electoral Commission, establishing their intent to run. The agency can accept their papers but has the power to reject or nullify their candidacy later.

Victoire Ingabire , a fierce critic of Mr. Kagame, has also expressed interest in running, though, in March, a Rwandan court blocked her from joining the contest, citing her past conviction for terrorism and genocide denial. Ms. Ingabire was sentenced to a 15-year sentence but Mr. Kagame commuted her jail time in 2018. In April, she lodged a case at the East African Court of Justice challenging the recent ruling from the Rwandan court.

The electoral commission is expected to announce the final list of presidential candidates in mid-June.

The Electoral Commission has said that some 9.5 million people have so far been registered to vote in this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections. Up to two million of them are first-time voters.

The election will be a three-day affair . On July 14, Rwandans living abroad will begin voting at the country’s embassies and diplomatic missions. On July 15, voters in Rwanda will go to the polls to choose their president and 53 of the 80 seats in the lower house of Parliament. On July 16, the remaining 27 members, who include representatives of the youth and disabled, will be elected.

The Electoral Commission will publish provisional election results on July 20. It will announce the final results on July 27, about two weeks after voting day.

Thirty Years After a Genocide in Rwanda, Painful Memories Run Deep

From the Horror to the Envy of Africa: Rwanda’s Leader Holds Tight Grip

‘No One Can Silence Me’: Paul Rusesabagina on His Captivity in Rwanda

The West Doesn’t Want More Migrants. But Rwanda Will Take Them

Abdi Latif Dahir is the East Africa correspondent for The Times, based in Nairobi, Kenya. He covers a broad range of issues including geopolitics, business, society and arts. More about Abdi Latif Dahir

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The Namibian

Tourism ministry digs in on new visa regime

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By Donald Matthys

5 June 2024

The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism says it believes the visa regime for citizens from countries that do not grant visa-free entry to Namibians will have minimal impact on the country’s tourism industry.

However, ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda says they will assess how the situation unfolds.

“We believe when this comes into effect, the impact on tourism would be minimal. We also believe that tourists would be able acquire visas upon arrival, which offers flexibility to our tourists,” Muyunda says.

He says the ministry supports the need for reciprocity in international relations.

Other countries to be affected include New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Seychelles, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uzbekistan.

Countries with reciprocal visa arrangements, such as Angola, Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe, will not be affected by the upcoming changes.

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The tourism body says the implementation of stricter visa requirements could have a detrimental impact on various sectors of Namibia’s economy, including tourism, hospitality, transportation and retail, all of which heavily rely on international visitors.

It says a more open visa policy attracts a diverse range of visitors, including business travellers, investors and tourists who contribute to the economy through spending, job creation and tax revenue.

“It hinders not only leisure travel but also business travel, conferences, events, education and trade, thereby limiting overall economic growth and development,” SADC Business Council Tourism Alliance project lead Natalia Rosa says.

Rosa called on the Namibian government to reconsider these “restrictive” measures and engage in dialogue with stakeholders to find solutions that balance security concerns with the need for economic growth and regional competitiveness.

“Namibia could look to successful examples like Rwanda, which has seen significant growth in its MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) tourism sector due to visa liberalisation and investment in infrastructure,” Rosa says. Rosa says Namibia’s new visa regime is puzzling as it is one of the first countries to introduce a remote working visa recognising the demand post Covid-19, particularly as SADC prepares to pilot its Univisa.

She says instead of tightening visa restrictions, Namibia could explore alternative solutions, such as implementing more efficient visa processing systems (e.g., e-visas), targeted visa waivers for specific groups or enhanced security measures at borders.

“All barriers to entry for international visitors must be critically examined and addressed to encourage longer stays, increase spending in the economy and accelerate the recovery of the tourism sector,” Rosa says.

Recently, Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board chief executive Nangula Uaandja said although there are two sides to this decision, there is a case to be made for both the economic and political argument.

“While I personally subscribe to the economic side of the coin, I understand where cabinet is coming from and have had personal experiences that make that case even more appealing. Therefore, I believe our global partner countries and visitors from those countries should really use this decision to reflect on how they view, group, stereotype and treat Africans. Maybe it is time for a new conversation and a different way of engagement,” Uaandja said.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month . Invest in journalism, invest in democracy – Subscribe Now!

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President Paul Kagame was on Wednesday, June 5 awarded an Honorary Doctorate in public policy and management by South Korea’s Yonsei University. This event took place in Seoul, South Korea, on the

Members of parliament follow Prime Minister's presentation briefing them on the success of the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1). Courtesy

Election latest: Sir Keir Starmer challenged to make 'lying PM' claim 'stick' - as minister doubles down on row

Amid the raging tax row, a former Scottish Labour leader has told Sky News that if Sir Keir Starmer can "make it stick" with voters that the PM "lies", he'll have won the argument. Meanwhile, a Treasury minister has denied that the Tory party's claim about Labour's tax plans is false.

Wednesday 5 June 2024 23:28, UK

  • General Election 2024

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Election news

  • Battle For No 10: PM and Starmer taking part in Sky News special
  • Bulletin: Catch up on the latest news from the campaign trail
  • Exclusive: Reform gains ground on Tories in new poll
  • Starmer accuses PM of lying | Watchdog 'looking into' tax claim
  • Treasury minister denies that Sunak lied | Starmer challenged to 'make it stick'
  • Welsh FM won't quit after losing confidence vote
  • Top chef explains Labour backing
  • Live reporting by Ben Bloch and (earlier)  Faith Ridler

Expert analysis

  • Adam Boulton: Starmer's been given licence to say 'liar'
  • Sophy Ridge: No party's being honest about challenges to come
  • Jon Craig: Starmer needs to be a bit less Mark Darcy
  • Ed Conway : The £13,000 omission in PM's tax warning

Election essentials

  • Have your say: Be in the audience for our election leaders event
  • Trackers: Who's leading polls? | Is PM keeping promises?
  • Campaign Heritage: Memorable moments from elections gone by
  • Follow Sky's politics podcasts: Electoral Dysfunction | Politics At Jack And Sam's
  • Read more: Who is standing down? | Key seats to watch | How to register to vote | What counts as voter ID? | Check if your constituency is changing | Your essential guide to election lingo | Sky's election night plans

Thank you for joining us for live coverage of another busy day on the general election campaign trail.

For a short burst of everything that happened today, see our evening round-up here .

Join us again from 6am as the battle for the keys to No 10 continues.

The Liberal Democrats are tonight weighing in on the tax row that has engulfed the general election campaign since last night's testy debate.

Rishi Sunak claimed that Labour's policies will see a £2,000 tax hike if it wins power - but that is highly disputed by experts,  including Sky's economics and data editor Ed Conway .

Sarah Olney, Treasury spokesperson for the Lib Dems, is seemingly siding with Labour in this row, saying in a statement that the Tories are "fooling absolutely nobody".

"Their chaos and mismanagement have damaged the economy and left British families worse off, saddling them with £41bn of unfair stealth taxes worth hundreds of pounds for every household," she said.

"Hard-working families deserve so much better. Voters will never forgive the Conservative Party for saddling them with unfair tax hikes and failing to tackle the cost of living crisis, while giving tax cuts to the big banks and oil and gas giants."

David Duguid has said on social media that the Scottish Conservatives have prevented him from standing again as a candidate for the party.

He served as the MP for Banff and Buchan from 2017 until parliament was dissolved for this general election, but has spent many weeks in hospital receiving treatment in intensive care for a spinal illness and pneumonia.

The general election "came as a surprise", but on 23 May, he announced that he would stand to win his seat once again.

Although he said he would be able to campaign, he also said he would not be able to canvass in person as he remains in a rehabilitation ward.

He said on social media this evening that although he was selected by local party members as their candidate once again, the Scottish Conservatives told him "that they have decided not to put me forward as their chosen candidate for Aberdeenshire North and Moray East" (the name of his former constituency following the boundary review).

A spokesperson for the Scottish Conservatives said: "David Duguid is unfortunately unable to stand in this election.

"David has been an excellent MP and great local representative for the last seven years.

"We thank David for all his hard work for the party, we look forward to his recovery to full health, and hope that he will want to rejoin frontline politics in the future."

It is understood that the party feels it is taking the decision in the best interests of Mr Duguid's health.

By  Faye Brown , political reporter

Rishi Sunak has pledged to cut rail fares for veterans and "enshrine their rights in law" in an election offering on the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

The prime minister has announced a raft of measures aimed at making the UK "the best place in the world" to have served in the armed forces.

This includes reducing the price of the Veterans Railcard from £30 per year to £21, bringing it in line with how much serving personnel pay for the HM Forces Railcard.

The Tories also want to extend the existing national insurance relief for employers who hire ex-military members, in a move the party said will incentivise companies to continue offering jobs to veterans.

But Labour said the Tory record on veterans is "shameful" and their election plans "mean no change".

The measures will be covered by a new Veterans Bill, which will also ensure military qualifications have an equal standing with civilian qualifications in law for the first time.

Read more here:

It's been a day of fiery fallout from last night's debate between the prime minister and Labour leader.

Rishi Sunak has faced backlash over his claims that Labour's plans will cost households £2,000 more in tax, with Sky's economics and data editor Ed Conway among those questioning the figures.

Here's everything you need to know about what happened in the general election today:

  • We'll start with Labour's no-nonsense response to Rishi Sunak's claims about their tax plans last night, which peaked with Sir Keir Starmer accusing the prime minister of repeatedly lying ;
  • Mr Sunak's claim is also being looked into by the UK's statistics watchdog, while doubt has been cast on his allegation by a top Treasury official, who said the civil service had nothing to do with it;
  • The Tories have stood by the claim that households will pay an extra £2,000 , but Labour insist working families won't be out of pocket;
  • Ed Conway has written about why you should probably be sceptical of those claims and says even if true, the amount is nowhere near the extra burden placed upon taxpayers in recent years;
  • But tonight, the Tories are doubling down, and making more pledges around taxes on housing, which you can read here .
  • Nigel Farage's return to frontline politics this week has also dragged down the Tories' ratings in our latest election polling;
  • Our exclusive survey from YouGov shows Mr Farage's party have pulled within two points of the Conservatives , with Labour on 40%, the Tories on 19% and Reform on 17%;
  • Speaking of Mr Farage, a woman has been charged after he had a milkshake thrown over him in Clacton yesterday.
  • Elsewhere, the Welsh first minister has lost a vote of no confidence , having been left in tears as the Senedd debated his future;
  • Vaughan Gething faced the vote after concerns were raised about a campaign donation he received, allegations he misled the COVID Inquiry, and Plaid Cymru withdrawing from its co-operation deal with Labour - but he has said he won't quit ;
  • In Scotland, Scottish Labour has been extolling the virtues of the party's plan for Great British Energy , which would be headquartered in the country;
  • Campaigning has been quieter in England, as party leaders assembled with royalty and veterans for D-Day commemorations in Portsmouth.

Sky News has also had its own announcement to make this evening, with Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer agreeing to take part in a special leaders' programme .

The Battle For Number 10 will air from 7pm next Wednesday.

Here are some other stories you might want to read:

Our essential political podcast,  Politics At Jack And Sam's ,  is going out every week day through the election campaign to bring a short burst of everything you need to know about the day ahead as this election unfolds -  here is today's edition .

Tap here to follow Politics At Jack At Sam's wherever you get your podcasts .

The Labour Party has hit out at "desperate claims" from Rishi Sunak as the Tories unveil another guarantee not to raise taxes.

The chancellor is tonight announcing what the Tories are calling the "Family Home Tax Guarantee", which is a pledge to:

  • Not increase the number of council tax bands, re-evaluate it, or cut existing discounts;
  • Maintain the Private Residence Relief - meaning people with one home that has always been their sole residence, and the grounds are less than 5,000 square metres will continue to not pay capital gains tax if it is sold;
  • Not increase the rate or level of stamp duty.

The Tories are continuing to claim that Sir Keir Starmer is going to raise taxes on families by £2,094 - something that is highly disputed by experts, including Sky's economics and data editor Ed Conway .

The party also says that shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves proposed changing council tax to a property tax, and are challenging Labour to match this new pledge.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said in a statement: "Rachel Reeves has previously called for a range of damaging new taxes on the family home just like Labour are looking at doing in Labour-run Wales; and that means she and Keir Starmer are coming for your family home.

"Only Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives will protect your family home to give you peace of mind with our guarantee that there will be no rises in such taxes for the whole of the next parliament."

But Labour has blasted the claims from the Conservative Party, saying in a statement: "We will not be raising taxes on working people. The Conservatives cannot be trusted on tax and taxes are at a 70-year high on their watch.

"These are more desperate claims from Rishi Sunak who lied to the British people before and is lying to them again."

By Alexandra Rogers , political reporter

Faiza Shaheen, who was blocked from representing the Labour Party in the general election, has announced she will stand as an independent.

Ms Shaheen, who initially won the Labour nomination for Chingford and Woodford Green, said she had decided to run as an independent after voters told her they felt "disenfranchised" by the party's decision to remove her as a candidate.

Labour removed Ms Shaheen as its candidate for the London constituency after she allegedly liked a series of social media posts that downplayed antisemitism accusations.

Yesterday she  announced her resignation from the party , accusing it of embodying a "hierarchy of racism".

She said she was weighing up whether to stand as an independent in Chingford, and on Wednesday afternoon, confirmed that decision.

The Liberal Democrats have announced a rail fare freeze as one of their manifesto commitments.

It would be funded via clamping down on tax avoidance and evasion, which the party says totals £38.5bn a year, and save commuters £115m.

Under the Tories, the Lib Dems say train tickets have soared while services have got worse.

The party's Treasury spokeswoman Sarah Olney said: "From Winchester to Wokingham, it is disgraceful that every day passengers are having to pay more for trains which are increasingly delayed or cancelled."

According to the party's analysis, commuters in Winchester, Hampshire, have seen season ticket prices climb by more than £1,000 since 2019, now standing at £6,432 a year.

In Harpenden, Hertfordshire, train commuters are paying £820 more, with tickets now costing £4,792 a year.

Rail fare reform would be implemented within five years, the party said.

By Sam Doak, OSINT Producer

As the country heads towards a general election, political parties have been competing through social media to get their messages to the public.

Sky News tracked the performance of the six highest polling parties across X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook to see how the race for online audiences is shaping up in the early days of the election campaign.

You can read about how they're doing below:

By Dan Whitehead , West of England and Wales correspondent

Seventy-eight days into the job and Vaughan Gething has lost the confidence of the Welsh parliament.

It may well be only by a narrow margin and because two Labour members were off sick - but whatever the factors behind this loss, it’s not a great look.

The first minister says he'll carry on, saying the vote was a gimmick. The Tories, Plaid, and Lib Dems here in Wales are all calling for him to resign.

D-Day commemorations tomorrow may put a momentary pause on the controversy - but Mr Gething now has a problem.

Do nothing, and he'll be constantly reminded the Senedd does not have confidence in his leadership. 

Resign, and trigger yet more political upheaval.

It may not be his choice: the Conservatives could put forward another vote of no confidence in the government, not just Mr Gething. They now are considering their next step.

All this amid an election campaign - with four weeks to go, what happens next in the Senedd could have a wider impact in UK politics.

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