Rwanda Introduces Tourism Operating Licenses


The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has officially announced the introduction of a tourism operating license to support the regulation of tourism entities.

The law regulating the tourism industry in Rwanda officially came into force on 28 July 2014, while ministerial orders regulating tourism business operating licenses and the grading of tourism entities came into effect on 3 October 2016. Both the law and ministerial orders were developed in accordance with East African Community (EAC) standards and were subject to technical review.

Together, the law and ministerial orders regulate the operations of all tourism entities in the country, including accommodation establishments, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, tour operators, travel agencies, tour guides, tourism information offices, cultural tourism entities (cultural villages, private museums), and any other entity as may be determined by Order of the Minister. By regulating the industry, RDB aims to improve quality of service, build the capacity of the private sector, and improve the marketing of Rwanda as a tourism destination.

According to the tourism law, all tourism entities are required to obtain a tourism operating license. Ministerial Order No25 of 14/09/2016 determines the requirements and fees for a tourism entity to be granted this license. To facilitate the application process, RDB developed a tool that allows entities to apply for this license online. In November 2016, RDB conducted a short pilot program to introduce the online license application to a selected group of tourism entities. These pilot participants were required to submit an online license application, upload a series of supporting documents, pay an application fee of 80,000 RWF, and undergo physical inspection to demonstrate that they have fulfilled all license requirements. Having successfully completed the process, RDB is now ready to issue tourism operating licenses to a group of 10 hotels and tour operators and to invite other entities to apply.

The Rwanda Development Board Chief Tourism Officer, Belise Kariza said that “as we advance in quality service provision, we should focus on investing in effective administrative mechanisms which to a great extent depend on licensing to strengthen the industry’s legitimacy and position in the region”.   

The Board unveiled  the new tourism regulation website, , the website serves as a portal for tourism entities to access tourism regulation information and services, including the online application to request a tourism operating license. In addition, it gives the public access to the law and ministerial orders, as well as answers to a number of frequently asked questions.

RDB will execute a phased roll-out of the tourism operating license in an effort to give entities sufficient time for compliance and to ensure entities benefit from efficient application processing. Tourism entities are advised to await direct communication from RDB and/or their relevant associations for information on how and when to begin applying for a tourism operating license.


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