Rwanda has defended its decision to spend “millions” on an advertising deal with UK football club Arsenal after it came in for heavy criticism.
Visit Rwanda, the country’s official tourism authority, will have its logo emblazoned across players’ sleeves next season, in the hope it will bring more tourists to the East African nation.
However, the deal raised eyebrows, especially in light of the fact the country still relies on foreign aid for a significant percentage of its budget.
British newspaper The Daily Mail claimed it had cost £30m ($40m) – almost half the amount the UK spends in aid in the country each year.
“If this isn’t a perfect own goal for foreign aid, I don’t know what is. It serves to expose the complete idiocy this system is based on,” Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen told the newspaper.
Meanwhile, questions were also raised in the Dutch parliament.
But Rwanda’s tourism authority has come out in defence of the deal.
In a statement released on its website, it argued it was part of a larger drive to increase the revenue Rwanda gets each year.
Our national goal is to double tourism receipts from $404m to $800m by 2024. This ambitious goal is only possible by marketing Rwanda as a tourist destination in innovative ways.
The Arsenal Football Club partnership is one of the many ways that Rwanda has chosen to position the destination into the hearts and minds of prospective visitors and as such part of our tourism receipts are ploughed back to support such marketing efforts.”