Drives by RDB (the Rwanda Development Board) aimed at attracting more tourists to Rwanda are starting to bear more fruits, with the country’s earnings from tourism growing by 4 per cent last year. Tourists numbers were also up by 6 per cent during the year.
According to new figures from RDB, Rwanda raked in $293.6m (about Rwf196.7b) from tourism, up from $281.8m (about Rwf188.8b) generated in 2012.
Tourists numbers were 1,137,000 visitors in 2013 compared to around 1,076,000 in 2012, which represents an increase of 61,000 visitors over the year.
Most of the tourists were mainly from the US, the UK and Germany, according to RDB statistics.
The development body noted that the three national parks in Rwanda, Nyungwe, Akagera and Volcanoes National Parks sold 61,764 tourist activities last year compared to 61,304 the previous year.
Some of the popular tourism attractions over the year included guided nature trails, birding, canopy adventure, tropical water falls, chimpanzee and mountain gorillas trekking, camping, Congo Nile hike, golden monkeys, Dian Fossey tomb, hiking on Bisoke and Karisimbi mountain peaks, game drives, fishing and boat cruises.
The earnings ($293.6m), mean that tourism is still Rwanda’s largest foreign exchange earner. Other top foreign exchange earners are tea, coffee and minerals.
The country’s tourism receipts are projected to get better, thanks to product diversification and expected benefits presented by the tripartite single tourist visa. The $100 (about Rwf69,000) visa gives tourists a seamless opportunity to visit Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.
Previously, tourists who wanted to visit the three countries would part with about $130 in entry visa fees.
Rica Rwigamba, the head of the tourism department at the Rwanda Development Board, revealed yesterday that RDB would launch an information bureau this month, where information on conference, accommodation and restaurant facilities, as well as airlines flying in and out of the country, would be accessed to market Rwanda’s potential as a conference hub.
This is hoped will further increase the country’s tourism revenues and visitors’ number in the coming years.