The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has said their sleeve sponsorship of English soccer club Arsenal to promote the Visit Rwanda brand has resulted in benefits valued at UK£36 million (US$44 million) in just one year.
The three-year partnership, signed in May 2018 and worth a reported UK£30 million (US$37 million), had been criticised in Rwanda, with claims the funds could have been better spent by the government in the country itself rather than on one of the Premier league’s biggest and wealthiest teams.
But now, the RDB has said the country has already recouped the UK£30 million investment, based off analytics provided by sports research and consulting firm Nielsen, social media and sponsorship measurement provider Blinkfire Analytics, and research agency Hall and Partners.
Belise Kariza, the RDB Chief Tourism Officer, said: “Before the signing of the partnership, 71 per cent of the millions of Arsenal fans globally did not think of Rwanda as a tourist destination, at the end of the first year of the partnership half of Arsenal fans would consider Rwanda as a destination to visit.
“In terms of overall value, the partnership so far, in year one, is worth £36 million or over Rwf36 billion. This number is based on TV viewership and social media.
“We can definitely say it has paid off.”
Kariza went on to add that the agreement factored into the 1.7 million people tourists that visited Rwanda in 2018 thanks to the brand exposure Arsenal gave to Visit Rwanda. She also said that the content created to promote the country as a holiday destination, aided by a tie-up with National Geographic, had seen at least 4.3 million interactions over social media and other activations.
Furthermore, Visit Rwanda’s YouTube channel saw a 100 percent increase in subscribers, while the brand’s Twitter and Instagram followings enjoyed a boost of 72 per cent and 577 per cent respectively off the back of the deal.
Kariza added: “I think really on the visibility it is paying off. It is also paying off in terms of people visiting from the UK. In 2018 we had a five per cent increase in visitors from the UK market only.”