Diversifying Rwanda’s Tourism Sector: Kigali’s Annual Dîner en Blanc

On August 10th 2014, the global phenomenon, Dîner en Blanc® took place at Acacia Gardens in Kagugu. Taking the pop-up, surprise concept to a refined level, these beautiful outdoor epicurean feasts are attended annually by as many as 15,000 people in cities around the world. After being the first African city to host this global event in 2012, this year marks Kigali’s 3rd official Dîner en Blanc®.

Globally, Dîner en Blanc® promotes friendship, elegance, and a sense of community amongst participants. In Rwanda, the annual event seeks to become part of the fabric of the country’s recently launched MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and events) tourism strategy. In May 2014, the Rwanda Development Board launched a new strategy for the tourism sector that will focus on the development of MICE tourism. The MICE strategy seeks to diversify the tourism sector in Rwanda by developing products and services for business and leisure travelers that will complement the country’s existing gorilla tourism, eco-tourism, and cultural and community based tourism.

Dîner en Blanc® Kigali is an annual event and this year, it attracted 585 participants. The event was attended by domestic tourists as well as participants from the region (Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, DRC, Ivory Coast, South Africa) and the world (Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Australia, the Netherlands, Oman, and the US). The event has made its mark not only by offering a unique tourism product, but especially by promoting local business such as restaurants, caterers, hotels, retailers, musicians, artists, designers, and tailors. Participating restaurants and catering services include Meze Fresh, Sole Luna, Indian Chef, Brioche, Mosaic, and Catertoo. The location of the pop—up picnic remained undisclosed until the day of the when pre-registered guests were transported from various bus points around Kigali to Acacia Gardens in Kagugu. In previous editions, the event was held in Gacuriro in 2012 and in Gishushu in 2013.

The 3rd edition of Dîner en Blanc® Kigali is presented by Illume Creative Studio, with the support of the Rwanda Development Board, the Ministry of Sports and Culture, and the Kigali City Council. This year’s event is proudly sponsored by Positive Productions, RwandAir, SORAS, KK Security, Mille Collines by Kempinsky, MTN Rwanda’s Mobile Money, and Akagera National Park. Further sponsorship was provided by Haute Baso, House of Tayo, Inzuki, Sonia Mugabo Designs, and Tsapa!.

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