When the Rwanda Development Board’s Tourism and Conservation Department yesterday shared their key data for the year 2014, there was immense pride which could be sensed, as the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’ once again recorded sustained growth from the tourism industry.
The sector today is a pillar of the national economic development and Rwanda has put deliberate long term policies in place to attract visitors into the country. Regulations which take ecofriendly and sustainable business practices into consideration, diversification of the country’s tourism products and a determined drive to make Kigali a text book example of how to fast track MICE business have all contributed to the success. The full backing by government and civil society of RwandAir, unlike in other countries in the region where the social media almost take pleasure to rip into their national airline, is paying off handsomely too.
It is no surprise therefore that tourism revenues once again grew in 2014 by some 4 percent compared to the year 2013 to nearly 305 million US Dollars while arrivals rose to 1.122.000 million visitors according to data published by the Directorate of Immigration and Emigration. This represents an increase of 9 percent on a year on year comparison.
The nascent MICE industry, again according to data captured through the immigration cards visitors have to fill in, showed a remarkable rise by nearly a quarter in 2014 over the previous year with 19.085 travelers stating they had come to Rwanda for the purpose of conferences and meetings, compared to just 15.441 in 2013. The estimated expenditure of these travelers has risen to 29 million US Dollars, nearly 10 percent of the overall tourism revenues generated last year.
‘We attribute this to good policies’ wrote a regular Kigali based source when discussing the statistics. ‘Unlike some of our neighbours we are known to take our country’s security seriously. Over the past 21 years has national security been at the centre of everything here. When tourism became a real economic driver it was clear that the protection of our visitors, just as much as our own citizens, must have top priority. Our adversaries know that Rwanda comes down hard on those up to no good and is not shy to take preventative action. Without security there can be no economic progress, there can be no tourism. Therefore, because our government gives security top priority, is Kigali one of the safest cities in Africa, apart from also being one of the cleanest. Even in these challenging times do visitors appreciate that fact and keep coming to Rwanda’.
With just three national parks, Volcanos, Nyungwe and Akagera, has the country nevertheless managed to attract an ever growing number of tourists over the past decade. Added attractions like Gishwati Forest, the Lake Kivu shores and islands, the showcasing of the country’s history by preserving and restoring Royal sites have all equally contributed to Rwanda’s success. For added details on Destination Rwanda click on www.rwandatourism.com
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Thome provides aviation, tourism & conservation news from
Eastern Africa & the Indian Ocean region. (wolfganghthome.wordpress.com)