Investing in and preserving Nature Based Tourism (NTB) is crucial in driving Rwanda’s economic growth as well as generating multi-sectoral benefits, according to the World Bank. ALSO READ: Services shine as economy registers double-digit growth This is highlighted in the Rwanda Economic Update report by the World Bank which is themed “Making Most of Nature Based Tourism in Rwanda,” released on February 21. Nature-Based Tourism means experiencing natural resources in a wild and undeveloped form. Over the past decade, 80 percent of the tourists who come to Rwanda for leisure or for business visit national parks. Despite the different economic hurdles that the country faced, Rwanda’s economy grew by 8 percent in the first three quarters of 2022, spurred by the revival of tourism. ALSO READ: Rwanda targets over $350m tourism revenue in 2022 Rolande Pryce, the Country Director of World Bank, recommended that more efforts be put in managing and enhancing tourism demand as well as diversifying the tourism aspect and experiences. He said: “We also would want the government to focus on increasing the number of arrivals, diversifying product offering. This way, we keep investments in community-based tourism and support for SMEs as suppliers of products and services in the value chain.” According to the report, for every $1 million that NBT activities inject into the economy, an additional 1,328 new jobs are created. The tourism sector holds a larger share of formal jobs and women workers than the rest of sectors. The Minister of Environment, Jeanne D’Arc Mujawamariya, noted that tourism needs to be strengthened without negatively impacting the natural resources and animals’ habitat. “We need to ensure our natural assets are well protected to prevent the risk of infections. We also need to ensure communities are always at the heart of our conservation efforts,” she added. The report highlighted that besides gorilla tourism, new NBT activities need to be developed alongside efforts to expand tourism, including water-based, urban and adventure tourism. ALSO READ: Kivu beach: A ‘backdrop’ of fresh water, sand and sardines Private sector role The report highlighted that involving private sector investment is critical to promote nature-based tourism in the country. A total financing estimated between $97.5million and $107.7 million is required for sustainable management of the natural resources, ecosystems, and biodiversity that underpin NBT by 2030. “It will be important to rely on diversified sources of financing for both the public and private sector, including debt and non-debt instruments, and to establish the policy framework required to encourage investment in NBT,” the report indicated. ALSO READ: Rwanda scoops two awards for tourism sustainability Commenting on the private sector’s participation in financing and operating facilities to support growth of NTB, Mujawamariya said that this means introducing innovative financing methods to secure the necessary investment and removing subsidies that contribute to environmental degradation.