A two-day exercise organised to mark the World Tourism Day ends today with various activities aimed at highlighting the role of tourism in the communities.
The celebration, held under the theme: “Tourism and Water: Protecting our Common Future” is taking place in Nyungwe National Park, in the south-western part of the country.
This year’s event has been packaged with a series of activities, including the accreditation of the Kitabi College of Conservation and Environment Management (KCCEM), a specialised college mandated with producing skilled labour in environment conservation and management.
Located on the outskirts of Nyungwe National Park, KCCEM targets mid-career conservation professionals and offers courses in conservation and tourism studies.
Students at the college come mainly from Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and DR Congo.
Other activities lined up to mark the day include a Symposium on the Conservation of Nyungwe National Park, a visit to Kitabi Cultural Village and the laying of a foundation stone to pave way for the construction of a new hotel on the outskirts of the park.
The 2013 World Tourism Day, which climaxes with an event at Groupe Scolaire Gisakura, is being celebrated “with a focus on successful 25 years of partnership with its stakeholders in supporting the conservation of Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda’s major water reserve,” the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) said in a statement.
The day is celebrated on September 27.
Its purpose is to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
This year’s theme highlights tourism’s role in water access and shines a spotlight on the actions currently being taken by the sector in order to contribute to a more sustainable water future, as well as the challenges ahead, the organisation said in a post on its official website.
In a video post, Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary General, described this year’s celebrations as a “truly unique opportunity to put the spotlight on water, the most valuable and precious human asset and resource.”
“Tourism is one of the largest economic sectors in the world and must take a leadership role to ensure that companies and destinations invest in adequate water management throughout the value chain,” Rifai said.
“We need to continue to devise innovative solutions to ensure tourism’s contribution to sustainable access to water worldwide. Unless we do so, the quality and quantity of available freshwater will continue to drain, threatening the delicate ecosystems enjoyed by all-tourism included,” Rifai warns, observing: “Water underpins our lives. Let’s protect our common future.”
With over 280 bird and 13 primate species and spreading over 1,000 square kilometres, Nyungwe National Park is one of the most acclaimed biodiversity rainforests in Africa. The park also boasts a diverse ecosystem from rainforest, bamboo, grassland, swamps, rivers, butterflies, moths and insects.