Few days after Rwanda announced the reopening of tourism for domestic tourists and visitors on chartered flights, officials say the country is on a good trend with bookings for gorilla trekking, canopying and Akagera safari tours increasing.
“In a span of a week since the reopening of the tourism sector, the trend is looking really, really good,” Belise Kariza, the Chief Tourism Officer at the Rwanda Development Board said on Friday, June 26.
There have been 69 bookings for the Volcanoes National Park, home to the popular endangered mountain gorillas, according to Kariza.
“At least 42 are confirmed bookings, meaning these are the people who are going to trek the mountain gorillas,” she noted in a webinar, adding that there’s a good share of foreign and Rwandan tourists, as well as EAC residing in Rwanda.
The rest of the bookings are those who will go for mountain hiking.
The head of tourism also indicated that Nyungwe National Park, home to canopy walks, is just starting to pick up with four confirmed tourists, and 16 visitors for Akagera National Park.
Rwanda eased tourism restrictions last week on June 18, allowing both domestic and foreign tourists to visit some of the country’s tourism offerings.
The announcement came close to three months after tourism activities in the country were suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tourists are now allowed to visit Rwanda under minimum health and safety guidelines.
To ensure the industry picks up, Rwanda announced promotional prices for gorilla-trekking permits as well as special packages for other tourism offerings in the country, mainly targeting locals and citizens of the region.
Rwandans and East African nationals will now pay $200, while foreign residents will pay $500, a promotion which ends in December.
This, according to RDB, will go a long way in promoting domestic tourism in the country.
International visitors will continue to pay $1,500.
Tourism sector is one of the hardest-hit sectors in Rwanda, with figures showing that the number of visitors dropped 54 per cent in March this year since the announcement of the lockdown.
Travel receipts (revenue from foreign visitors coming to Rwanda) dropped by 35 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year, according to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR).
In the months of April and May, Rwanda saw a drop of 100 per cent in the number of visitors, Kariza noted.
The private sector is also working on ways to get back to business.
Frank Gisha Mugisha, the Director-General of the Rwanda Tourism Chamber at the Private Sector Federation, highlighted that they are engaging hoteliers and tour operators to design attractive packagers for tourists.Follow https://twitter.com/Julio_Bizimungu