Members of Parliament have called on Rwanda Development Board (RDB) officials to devise ways to diversify the country’s tourism, specifically calling for more attention to cultural attractions.
They said this would significantly boost the sector and attract more tourists.
RDB officials were on Friday appearing before the Lower House’s standing committee on budget and national patrimony to defend their allocation in the 2019/20 budget framework.
The lawmakers said that while tourism is a leading foreign exchange earner for Rwanda there are still a lot of untapped opportunities.
“If you look at our tourism sector you’ll find that it is more focused on classic tourism, such as visiting mountain gorillas, and different national parks,” MP Theogene Munyangeyo said.
Little is being done to exploit our cultural heritage as tourist attractions, he said.
He said that the country is home to diverse historical sites and possessions that should be harnessed to boost tourism sector.
Belise Kaliza, the Chief Tourism Officer at RDB, admitted there are touristic opportunities yet to be exploited but added that there were several projects in the pipeline that would cater for their concerns.
She said that the country intends to grow the sector further by promoting religious and cultural tourism as well as the history of the liberation struggle.
“It is true that we have promoted more gorillas and Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) tourism products but we want to promote other types of attractions to diversify further and attract more tourists,” she said.
Kaliza said that, among others, there are three areas where RDB plans to invest to help diversify tourism. “We want to promote religious tourism, we want to develop liberation tourism as well as adventure tourism,” she said.
On adventure tourism, she cited plans to develop new destinations around the Kivu Belt road, such as water sports, the proposed Karongi Golf Resort Hotel, among others.
The RDB official also said that the Board will work with other institutions such as the Ministry of Sports and Culture to develop Kigali Cultural Village to ensure it is developed into a cultural hub complete with all the necessary infrastructure and features.
Kaliza observed that several investors have expressed interest in such various projects.
Meanwhile, RDB officials said the institution faced a budget gap of up to 20 per cent in the next fiscal year (2019/20) based on the funds they had asked for.