Rwanda’s unique message key to attracting tourists

Mountain gorillas make their homes in and amongst the bamboo covered slopes of the Virunga Mountains in the Volcanoes National Park. Courtesy.

Rwanda’s unique message can give the country a competitive advantage in the tourism sector, particularly in attracting more tourists from Asia, China in particular.

This was the observation made by a group of prominent Chinese photographers who have been in Rwanda for the “China Rwanda photo friendship cup” contest organised to reward the best photos of tourist attractions in Rwanda.

The four Chinese photographers, each of whom has at least 1.5 million fans on social media, have been taking pictures in different parts of the country since January 4, to promote Rwanda’s tourism in china.

The photo contest was organised with support from embassies of both countries and hosted by the Confucius Institute, co-organised by the Rwanda China Alumni Organization (RCAO) with support from Rwanda Development Board.

Speaking to The New Times prior to the awarding ceremony on Saturday, the photographers said that Rwanda’s icon message is important, which sets it apart from other countries on the continent.

“Finding an icon message is important. For instance, other countries can have the same attractions that Rwanda has, but the safety, cleanliness and discipline can be icons that make Rwanda more competitive on the market,” said Zhang Qianli, a photographer and a writer.

Zhang, who was in Rwanda for the first time said he was impressed by the country’s tourist sites, especially the mountain gorillas and Nyungwe national park.

“You can get close, they (gorillas) stand up, and they pass by. It’s very close. You can see their face. We saw some small babies, I think four months. It was a very special trip,” he said.

Their trip ended with an awarding ceremony held at Kigali Convention Centre where more than 10 best local and Chinese photographers were awarded.

Among the award winners, Zhang Qianli was nominated for the best landscape picture, a shot depicting houses in Kigali at night dubbed “A Night in Kigali.”

Cyril Ndegeya, a local photojournalist, also won an award for his photo of the “The Land of a Thousand Hills”, which depicts Rwanda’s hilly terrain.

China-Rwanda Photo Contest winners Zhang Qianli and Cyril Ndegeya pose in a group picture with Chinese Ambassador to Rwanda, Rao Hongwei (L) and Linda Mutesi (R), Head of Tourism Marketing at Rwanda Development Board. / Faustin Niyigena

Zhang Zhitao won the best nature picture for his photo dubbed “The Look,” a shot depicting the face of a chimpanzee in Nyungwe forest.

Pascal Munezero got the same recognition on the Rwandan side for a shot he called “Sunset in Nyungwe”.

Zhu Mengfei was awarded for the best people’s photo for her picture dubbed “Brothers,” illustrating smiles on Rwandan children.

Dong Lei won the best story telling picture for his photo called “Hope”, which showcases agriculture activities in rural Rwanda.  On the Rwandan side, Niyonshuti Moise’s photo called “road transport”, which illustrates taxi moto transport in Kigali, won him an accolade.

According to the organisers, the pictures and videos taken during the trip will be promoted on popular Chinese travel platforms like fliggy, Ctrip, and mafengwo, with an estimated exposure of 200 million on social media and 50 million on travel platforms.