Despite having embarked on a campaign of using financial benefits from tourism as a tool of poverty alleviation, Rwanda Development Board has no specific budget for pro-poor tourism, according to an official.
Emmanuel Werabe, Director of Tourism and Conservation at has RDB said that there is no way tourism can grow without the smaller ones growing.”
RDB says that strategies are already in place to ensure that the poor get a share of the foreign exchange earned through tourism.
“It is a new thinking, we haven’t considered the budget,” Werabe said. This follows a workshop on pro-poor tourism that was attended by officials of tourism sectors of the East African countries. During the workshop they discussed the significance of pro-poor tourism.
Werabe explained that despite not having a budget, “we are a tourism that alleviates poverty. We have budgets for partnerships that we work with, mostly Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).” He added that, RDB help hundreds of SMEs including handcrafts.
Tourism is currently one of the highest foreign exchange generating sectors in Rwanda.
Warebe emphasised that within the tourism policy is stipulated that, “SMEs must be supported to grow and also in the management of their businesses.”
He disclosed that in line with pro poor tourism they are encouraging ‘home stays’ and that, “instead of tourists staying in hotels, they interact with the locals share food but maintain hygiene and learn about the Rwandan culture and at the end pay them.”