Rwanda’s tourism opportunities

Mountain gorillas from Susa Group in Kalisimbi forest ( Sam Ngendahimana)

Private sector and public organizations are increasingly interested in the economic impacts of tourism at national and local levels.

Rwanda has made tremendous strides in tourism industry. But there are areas that require more input of private sector such as improving local participation in the value chain in the tourism industry. 

Regularly, benefits and costs of the local tourism industry are assessed.

Benefits to the local community from tourism have been noted across the country including the communities surrounding the touristic attractions.

“Multiplier effects” are often cited to capture secondary effects of tourism spending and show the wide range of sectors in a community that may benefit from tourism.

Economic benefits and costs

Tourism’s economic benefits are peddled by the industry for a variety of reasons. Claims of tourism’s economic significance give the industry greater respect among the business community, public officials, and the public in general. This often translates into decisions and public policies that are favorable to tourism.

Community support is important for tourism, as it is an activity that affects the entire community. Tourism revenues have reached the communities through support of schools, and other small local projects. This is a government expenditure from the tourism revenues. The benefits are that education and other social economic benefits spread evenly to the community.

Economic benefits of tourism reach virtually everyone in the country in one way or another. On the national level, tourism contribute to gross domestic product.

Tourism provides tangible economic interdependencies and a better understanding of the role and importance of tourism in an economy. Tourists spend their savings on the local business services and products. Tour agents earn from their various services.

Tourism activity also involves economic costs, including the direct costs incurred by tourism businesses, government costs on infrastructure to better serve tourists...

Community decisions over tourism often involve debates between industry proponents advertising tourism’s economic impacts (benefits) and critics emphasizing tourism’s costs. Sound decisions rest on a balanced and objective assessment of both benefits and costs and an understanding of who benefits from tourism and who pays for it. From the management point of view, you will only earn from spending.

The green opportunities in tourism arena

Much as we always sing ‘thinking big’, innovations must take lead and come out of the blanket to think big with no action.

Focusing on Akagera National Park. It is an impeccable set-up of geographical scenery to watch. Above Lake Ihema, towards Tanzania, observing antelopes jumping in groups (herds of female or male) giraffes, bird watching, all that is found in the savanna plus the big five. The vegetation is as well pleasant to lookout.

Facilities in and out of the park

There is a game lodge and a tented lodge, located inside the park for refreshments and accommodation plus gift shops. There is a plan to locate a hotel of the high end category in the northern part of the park. These are superb services managed by experts.

When you visit this park, the entrance and the exit point of the park, you will realize there are hardly any joint for hand craft shops, tea shops, restaurants and Hotels. One cannot ignore what all these would bring to the local community around this park. 

It is so encouraging to see Rwandans interested in touring their own country. However such facilities mentioned are lacking to facilitate many locals in terms of refreshment and other various services required. Remembering what a tour is, many local tourists are troubled to carry packed food thus ‘picnic’. There is a probability to littering in the park.    

Tourism’s economic impacts are therefore an important consideration in the national and community planning. Economic impacts are also important factors in marketing and management decisions.

Private sector need to exploit opportunities to the maximum where possible. Further opportunities may be in community tourism, agritourism- activities that link agriculture and tourism. We talk of made in Rwanda concept, so… walk the talk! The value chain will involve the community who will be economically empowered. They can thus cater for their social needs like medical insurance, hence the government saves on the national expenditure.

In all aspects, it will absolutely positively touch the poverty reduction cycle. 

 

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