The Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN) expects to generate over Frw36.8b ($68m) from 50,000 visitors this year.
“After studying the performance of the economy, we came up with a target of $68m which is higher than that of last year,” Rosette Chantal Rugamba, ORTPN’s director general, said during a press conference at the ORTPN offices in Kigali on January 18.
Last year, ORTPN generated $42.3m (Frw22.9b) from 39,000 tourists.
Rugamba said that in 2008 new tourist attractions will include nocturnal game drives in Rwanda’s two national parks, and cave visits and boat trips on Lake Kivu. ORTPN is also looking to introduce a ‘welcome to Rwanda’ campaign to promote tourism.
A further attraction is the Kwita Izina (a gorilla naming ceremony), an event that attracted 62 international guests including world leading conservationists and thousands of Rwandans last year. Last year, 23 gorillas were named and adopted by various individuals and companies. “The estimated Frw36.8b will be achieved through improved services offered to tourists,” Rugamba said.
ORTPN are in the process of finalising a wildlife act that aims to reduce human damage and improve human safety in the parks. A wildlife census for big game such as elephant, giraffe, buffalo and antelope is also to be carried out.
Rugamba attributed the success of Rwanda’s tourism industry to the strong partnership between the government, the army and the police that gives confidence to visitors.
Rwanda also generates income from bird watching. On October 20, 2007, ORTPN and its partners launched bird watching as an alternative attraction to high end tourists who havemade tourism the third highest foreign income earner in the country.
Tourism is ranked among the fastest growing economic sectors in the country.