The Rwanda tourism sector registered tremendous growth as the revenue generated increased by 17 per cent last year compared to 2011. John and Mary Ann McDonald on their 75th tour of Volcanoes National Park are entertained by traditional troupes.
Tourism generated $281.8m (Rwf178b) in 2012 compared to $251.3m (Rwf159b) the previous year. This corresponds to an increase of 17 per cent, according to 2012 Tourism Report released that was released by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
The tourism earnings have soared up after the “Visit Rwanda” campaign. The campaign that met huge criticism at the start has increased tourist arrivals by 8%.
“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,” said Belise Kariza, head of RDB’s tourism department.
Addressing a news conference, Clare Akamanzi, the Rwanda Development Board acting chief executive officer, said hard work and smart decisions put in overtime by the government contributes to the continued growth of the tourism industry.
“The general conducive business environment Rwanda has and specific reforms that have been put in place for tourism such as marketing and infrastructure and high-end tourism strategy, among others, have led to the unprecedented growth of tourism sector in the country,” Akamanzi said.
Rica Rwigamba, the head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB, said: “the tourism sector is on an upward trajectory, we are now working to enhance the sector through continuous product diversification while putting on an excellent service delivery.”
She said the growth of investors helped boost tourism, which resulted in putting the country in the top end of the tourist destinations in the region.
For instance, major international airlines such as KLM, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways and South African Airlines have opened their routes to Rwanda.
“There was a noticeable increase in revenues as we surpassed our targets due to the huge arrival of investors this year in the tourism industry,” Rwigamba added. The sector projects to generate $317m receipts in 2013, according to export promotion strategy.
The statistics show that visitors from neighboring countries of DR Congo, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya accounted for 915,000 visits in 2012 compared to 714,000 in 2011. However, visitors from non-neighboring states increased to 161,186 in 2012 from 159,579 in 2011. Leisure visitors accounted for about 97,000, while business visitors were about 422,000.
The US recorded the highest number of visitors, with 24,041, followed, by India (14,957), UK (13,355), Belgium (9,192) and Germany (9,180).
Rwigamba said: “We are working hand-in-hand with the tourism chamber to improve customer service and to solve the skills gap that seems to be a hindrance to better service delivery.”
Rwanda boasts of tourist attractions such as Mountain gorillas, Dian Fossey, Golden tracking, Akagera and Nyungwe national parks, museums, Lake Kivu, bird watching, Rwanda genocide memorial and culture, and Congo Nile Trail, among others.
its noted that since most travelers that visit Rwanda mainly come to enjoy Gorilla Trekking , Chimpanzee and wildlife in Akagera national park, its advise to all travelers planning a Rwanda Safari to include the key safari activity of Gorilla Watching in Volcanoes national park.