GICUMBI — Tourism is one of Rwanda’s foreign exchange earner, after Coffee and Tea. The rich culture of Rwandan people together with Virunga Mountain Gorillas North of the country, are part of tourist attractions.
Tourism plays a major role in the development of Rwanda’s economy.
In addition to providing foreign currency, tourism is also a source of employment to many university and high school leavers who work as game wardens, tourist guides and technical experts employed at Rwanda Office of Tourism and national Parks (ORTPN).
According to Oxford Economic country Briefings Bulletin published in 2007, there is great optimism in Rwanda’s tourism Industry because of a huge range of tourist attractions.
The natural resources of Rwanda are an attraction to tourists, because the country is characterized geographically with grassy uplands and numerous hills.
There are also volcanoes and lakes in addition to Plains and Swamps, which attract more tourists.
The Governor of Northern Province, Boniface Rucagu has on many separate public occasions called upon the Rwandan business community to invest in Hotel construction in the northern, to accommodate many tourists who visit the Mountain Gorillas.
He echoed this at a one day-seminar held at Hotel Urumuli in Gicumbi and at another function organised by the Northern Province Private Sector Federation held in Byumba town this year, calling upon officials of Rwanda Social Security Fund and the Private Sector to invest much in Hotel business.
“Besides hotels providing accommodation to visitors who come to carry out seminars, they also accommodate tourists who come to visit Mountain Gorillas,” said Rucagu.
Best known for its wealth of primates, Rwanda also has one of Africa’s richest bird species.
The Oxford Economic Country Briefing Bulletin further says a staggering 670 different bird species have been recorded in Rwanda. For the Botanists, the gorgeous wild life flowers, the Forests and Mountains are capped by more than 1000 orchid species in Nyungwe National Park alone.
Akagera National Park in Eastern Rwanda is home to both large and small wildlife.
They range from Lions, Giraffes, Elephants, Hippopotamus, to Hyena, Impala and Gazelle. There is a wide variety of bird life as well. In addition, Rwanda has water bodies which are ideal for water sports and fishing.
Notable among them are lakes Kivu and Muhazi. Lake Kivu also offers beautiful beaches, jutting Peninsulas and beautiful Islands.
Rwanda’s cultural Heritage is also rich, especially in music and dance which plays an important role in the tradition of Rwandan people.
Famous music is the “Intore” dance, formerly performed exclusively for the Royal Court. A wide range of traditional handcraft is also produced in rural Rwanda.
They include Ceramics, Wood carvings and Contemporary carvings.
Besides tourists coming to Rwanda to see the beautiful Mountain scenery, animals and birds, many foreign researchers in human medicine visit Nyungwe natural forest to discover medicinal plants that cure a variety of human diseases.
In addition wild life is used for scientific experiments to test drugs, especially in Monkeys, Baboons or Chimpanzees before being recommended for administering on human beings.
Many studies on animal behavior have also been used by psychiatrists to study the human mind, by carrying out scientific tests on Chimpanzees or Mountain Gorillas.
It is against this background that Rwandans should exploit the commercial values derived from wildlife to its maximum. Wanton destruction of forests and habitat of wild animals should be discouraged.
In his recent address to District environment conservation officers at Gicumbi District, Minister of Natural resources, Stanislas Kamanzi warned of stringent legal measures against people who deplete the country of trees, without replacing them.
“Trees provide the oxygen we breathe, absorb poisonous gases and are the source of rainfall needed for agricultural production,” said Kamanzi.