Rwanda is planning to triple tourism revenues over the next couple of years, an official from Rwanda Development has revealed.
Already the number one foreign exchange earner, this year, revenues of over US$300 million are expected to be raked in.It follows record earnings in 2013 of US$293 million after several years of sustained double-digit growth, making the ambitious target a distinct possibility.
Key to this success were the diversification of tourism attractions from what used to be an exclusively gorilla-tracking destination to more versatile offerings through the revitalization of the Akagera National Park and the launch some years ago of the Nyungwe Forest National Park, with East Africa’s only elevated walkway through the treetops and above. Eight hiking trails into and through the forest have pulled in adventure tourists, and the launch of the Congo Nile Trail 3 years ago has also helped to put Rwanda on the map as a safe destination with awe-inspiring scenery along the shores of Lake Kivu.
Cultural sites from the kingdom of old were spruced up, the National Museum in Huye offers insights into the past and present of Rwanda’s culture and history, and an extensive cave system at Musanze, also the springboard for gorilla tracking, has been opened for tourists, adding extra value for tourists.
The second reason was the concerted move into the MICE market, and with hotel capacities growing fast, the Kigali Serena will soon be joined by Marriott and Radisson Blue which are both opening hotels soon and Kempinski has taken over the grand ol’ dame of Kigali, the Mille des Collines Hotel, the added top-class beds help to fill the brand new national convention center now under construction in the capital.
Finally, the success of Rwanda’s tourism industry has been attributed to the national airline, RwandAir, which has grown in leaps and bounds over the past years. Given the full support of government, the airline renewed the fleet with brand-new jets and state-of-the-art turbojet aircraft and a network now spanning over 16 destinations in Africa and the Gulf.
The construction of a new airport outside the capital, due to be ready by approximately 2018, will further help to attract other airlines from abroad, with FlyDubai the latest carrier to fly to Rwanda, besides Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, KLM and Qatar Airways, among others.
A statement received from the Rwanda Development Board’s Tourism and Conservation Department’s Amb. Yamina Karitanyi sheds further light to the country’s plans to triple revenues over the coming years: “We are making progress with initiatives aimed at meeting the growing tourism demand in Rwanda. Our new conference facility, the Kigali Convention Center, which will be the largest in East and Central Africa, is nearing completion and should open soon. We know that recent innovations such as the single tourist visa will continue to be significant in our overall tourism sector growth.”
No doubt Rwanda is one of East Africa’ most vibrant economies, and with Kigali regularly getting rave reviews for its cleanliness, the security which allows walking at night without any problems and free Wi-Fi connections across the city, the country will benefit from such a reputation and pull in ever more visitors.