In May 2018, Arsenal signed a 3-year partnership deal worth 30 million pounds (34 million Euros) with Rwanda. The partnership was an effort to boost the East African country’s tourism sector. With the partnership deal, the English football club was supposed to advertise Rwanda’s tourism sector. Arsenal players’ sleeves have had the words ‘Visit Rwanda’ from the launch of the deal.
The football club announced the partnership in a tweet.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) May 23, 2018
The deal, however, was met with so much criticism over the huge investment. But according to the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), their efforts were not in vain. The officials say that the overall tourism numbers have increased by 8% while the number of tourists from England has increased by 5%.
Belise Kariza, who heads the tourism department in RDB, said that after the deal, more Arsenal fans globally considered Rwanda a tourist destination.
Before the partnership was signed, 71% of the millions of Arsenal fans worldwide did not consider Rwanda a tourist destination, at the end of the first year of the partnership, half of them considered Rwanda a destination to visit.
Albert Rudatsimburwa, in a tweet, expressed his support for the partnership deal while referring to the criticism as ‘ignorance’.
It actually shows the ignorance of these critics, thinking that "sponsoring" is like a waste only affordable for "riches"… ignoring it's part of a structural investment. Today #Rwanda is indeed a high end #Tourism destination in need of more visibility & #Arsenal perfect vector pic.twitter.com/CthnZG9YCV
— Albert Rudatsimburwa 🇷🇼 (@albcontact) May 29, 2018
Many, however, still think the money given to Arsenal could have been used better to help needy Rwandans.
One of them is Congolaistelema who said in a tweet, “The majority of the population of Rwanda lives in poverty, their rulers throwing away money to sponsor one of the richest sports clubs in the world!”
Another one by the name Sentletse said, “No one visits a country by seeing a $39m mourners armband that says “Visit Rwanda”. Nothing in that $39m offers any value proposition to potential tourists.”
FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS SQUAD replied to this saying, “By driving tourism traffic & even FDI to Rwanda as an attractive destination. Western media has its ideas & just hate that Rwanda wants to shine.”
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame is a huge Arsenal fan, judging from his tweets.
Happy for Arsenal going coming back to good game and winning ways!!! Congrats
— Paul Kagame (@PaulKagame) October 23, 2018
My take on my beloved Club Arsenal- a very good one at the game and a very good coach like a.Wenger ,this should not have been the kind of ending of an era. The coach is leaving and club trophy-less it was long coming! I am still a committed fan going forward :). Blame the owners
— Paul Kagame (@PaulKagame) May 3, 2018
Rwanda is famous for the mountain gorillas of the Volcanoes National Park and hosting conferences. These tourism activities generate 430 million Euros annually. This amounts to about 5.47% of the country’s GDP.