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Build it like Costa Rica -- Rwanda specialty food producers look to leverage tourism for export gain

Published on April 09, 2018

On April 8, a delegation of Rwanda specialty food entrepreneurs arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica to participate in a USAID-Hub supported agri-tourism learning tour. Tourism and agriculture are two of Rwanda’s strongest contributors to gross domestic product and the participating entrepreneurs are keen to discover how the two sectors might be better integrated for maximum economic gain. Costa Rica has already accomplished the integration of agriculture and tourism for tremendous gain.

With support of the USAID Hub’s specialty food advisor and Rwanda country representative, the delegation will learn first-hand from the major stakeholders in Costa Rica about the process of combining agriculture and tourism.  The delegation will visit integrated coffee/tourist operations that offer cultural events, production tours and walks through plantations. Local coffee operation Café Brit will be one of standout stops on the trip.

Café Brit was the one of the first to launch a coffee tour that included a theatrical play and dance about the cultural impact of coffee on Costa Rica. It also employed professional baristas and maximized the selling of its products on site. Café Brit quickly became “THE” tour that every tourist new to Costa Rica had to experience. Today, there are at least 10 different coffee tours in Costa Rica and agri-tourism has become a driving economic force in more sectors than just coffee.

The USAID Hub is supporting Rwanda to increase its export revenue by leveraging the agri tourism angle in a similar manner to Costa Rica. Soon, Rwandan visitors should be able to drink fantastic Rwanda coffee or tea enroute to the gorillas and then depart with bags of those product to enjoy at home. The approach should increase export revenue for both tourism and agro processing and increase the average daily expenditure of visitors.