Rwanda Development Board is set to diversify its tourism products to avoid reliance on revenues from gorilla tracking, according to Rica Rwigamba, the Head of Tourism and Conversation at the board.
Addressing a news conference last Friday in Kigali, Rugamba said next year, RDB would launch cage, and Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions tourism segments. The latter is expected to be a key tourist attraction by the end of next year as Rwanda will be the only country in the East African region to have a convention bureau.
“The convention bureau is a body that will basically be promoting Rwanda as a place of conferences. Conferences will be a key element in attracting tourists by the end of next year or 2014,” she said.
During the year, the sector has been focusing much on the Nyungwe forest and other national parks with promotions by RDB, private sector lodges as well as the national carrier Rwandair. The main strategy behind this has been to uphold the main tourist attractions while adding more.
A bill is already before parliament to reform the tourism sector, which Rwigamba said would help regulate the sector.
“Today, RDB has no right to regulate the sector but the bill will be able to provide us the right to do that ensuring that the hotels and all customer services are up to the required standards and also RDB providing licences for opening hotels,” she said.
Through the bill, investors will be able to put up hotels after undergoing the right procedures.
Acting RDB CEO, Clare Akamanzi,,told Business Times that as the number one foreign exchange earner and employment creator as well as its high double digit growth; it was important to regulate the tourism sector.
Tourism is estimated to have generated $210.5 million from January to September 2012 compared to $184.4 million generated in 2011 at the same period. This represents a growth rate of14 percent.