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Rwanda: Rwanda Tourism Profile 2012

2012/03/28

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Rwanda Tourism Profile 2012

Analyse of the sector 30/11/2010
Travel and tourism continues to flourish
Travel and Tourism in Rwanda has grown steadily over the years to become the second largest source of export earnings after coffee. Since its prioritisation as a key economic contributor, travel and tourism has continued to maintain its position as one of the leading foreign currency earners in Rwanda. Ranked by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB)/Tourism & Conservation as the fastest growing industry in the country, travel and tourism generated a reasonable amount of money for Rwanda’s economy in 2009, thanks to an increase in the number of tourists. With continued investment by the government, travel and tourism is expected to continue to grow over the forecast period and will remain a key foreign exchange earner.
 
Participation at global tourism fairs helps create awareness
 
Since Rwanda started showcasing its diverse beauty and attractions to the world at the World Travel Market (WTM) 2003 in London, the country has made a name for itself by participating in numerous tourism trade exhibitions on a global level. Despite its tragic past, the nation has been recognised as a destination of choice, thanks to the efforts of the RDB/Tourism & Conservation, which promotes the country’s diversity. The International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin, where it won the award for the best African exhibitor for the third time in a row, was one of the premier global travel and tourism events that Rwanda attended in 2009. The country was also named among the world’s top 10 hottest travel destinations for 2009 by Lonely Planet and was the only African nation to be honoured at the WTM 2009. Mindful of the global financial crisis, the Rwandan government plans to increase its publicity campaign, pushing the country as a unique tourism destination.
 
Diversification generates additional revenue
 
Tourism products in Rwanda are undergoing tremendous diversification as the country expands its traditional offering of gorillas, savannah, baskets and traditional dancers. Although mountain gorillas are still the nation’s prime attraction, Rwanda also offers amazing natural and scenic beauty, as well as unique flora and fauna, in its three national parks. Tourists can enjoy rides in the parks; nature walking and bird watching in Nyungwe National Park; beautiful handicrafts; and the country’s museums. Other tourism products include canopy swings in Nyungwe National Park, cave tourism and new city tours in Huye and Rubavu. The introduction of various new tourism packages attracts new tourists to Rwanda and also generates additional income for travel and tourism. The promotion of pro-poor tourism can help reduce poverty in a country where the population has become poorer, despite the growth of tourism.
 
Common EAC visa to boost growth
 
Although travel and tourism in the East African Community (EAC) was affected by the financial crisis, it is expected to remain the second fastest growing tourism area in Africa after Southern Africa. As many international travellers cut back on spending, the EAC announced that a single entry visa will suffice for entry requirements in the near future in a bid to keep costs down and attract more tourists to the region. Although the start date is not yet known, the uni-visas are expected to prove popular and reduce the financial burden on visiting tourists. Rwanda, which was integrated into the EAC in 2007, has fully embraced its joint marketing initiative to promote the region as a single travel package and is currently in the process of classifying its tourism facilities and accommodation according to EAC standards. The single visa is expected to enable the EAC to compete with destinations like South Africa, Morocco and Egypt. Prices, however, will need to be uniform and customer friendly to encourage tourists to choose the EAC.