Kibeho should be promoted as a top religious tourism destination

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Christian faithful receive blessings as they offer alms at Kibeho Holy Land during the Assumption Mass last year. (File)

Editor,

RE: “What you must not miss while in Rwanda” (The New Times, May 13).

I read with keen interest this article wherein as many as eleven items/tourism products were indicated, which the writer said one should not miss while in Rwanda.

But, why does Kibeho not feature in Rwanda’s tourism product offerings?

Statistics compiled by the “Alliance of Religions and Conservation” indicate that, last year alone, as many as 20 million pilgrims visited Guadalupe in Mexico, eight million visited Lourdes in France, while 4.5 million visited Fatima in Portugal.

This aroused my curiosity as to why there was no mention of Kibeho anywhere in the article.

It is unfortunate that even the Rwanda Tourism website makes no mention whatsoever about Kibeho yet it cites cultural experiences and many other tourism product offerings.

Having myself visited Kibeho, it is my firm belief that if this unique place of pilgrimage was included on the Rwanda Tourism website and if the local media too mentioned this holy, peaceful and important religious tourism destination when they talk of places of interest in this beautiful land of a thousand hills, Rwanda’s tourism earnings would increase significantly.

Marketing is the buzz word today. It is imperative that we market Kibeho for pilgrimages and religious retreats as a place of interest and of historical importance, not only for Catholics, but for all visitors to the country from all religions and denominations.

It is a fact that certain infrastructural investments are required to promote Kibeho as a religious tourism destination. But unless we make these investments we shall only be in a situation of trying to analyse which comes first between “the chicken or the egg”.

It would be prudent, therefore, to improve the facilities at Kibeho and, for sure, there is bound to be a good return on investment that would have been made to bring Kibeho up to international standards.

Very soon, Kigali will proudly announce the opening of its state-of-the-art Kigali Convention Centre. That will be great news. But each tourism segment is important for the country, including religious tourism.

At a recent Kwibuka22 event in Mumbai, survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi sang a meaningful hymn, “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace”. The peace and tranquility one can find at Kibeho would be incredible.

I wish Remarkable Rwanda every success in promoting its unique religious tourism product: Kibeho.

Clarence Fernandes