The new tourism product in Rwanda has the potential to attract at least Rwf6.2 billion in revenue by 2012 according to the study carried out by On The Frontier (OTF) in 2008.
According to Davidson Mugisha, President of Rwanda birding association, the country has got enough potential to be a leading birding destination on the continent.
“Rwanda boasts of the highest concentration of birds per square kilometer in Africa and this is an advantage for the country,” said Mugisha.
The total number of bird species in Rwanda range from 630 to 735 according to different researchers. About 475 species are indigenous to Rwanda while the rest are seasonal migrants.
According to the OTF study, by 2012 every birding visitor who will pay a 12 day trip will be able to generate Rwf1.9 million with high level wages to local birding guides ranging between Rwf17, 190 to Rwf85, 950 per day.
Akagera national park boasts of the most number of bird species totaling 525 species, while Nyungwe national park has 283 species with the highest concentration of albertine endemics in the world.
In a bid to promote birding in Rwanda, the birding association will train 20 bird guides this year adding to the already existing 20 guides and train five trainers as well.
“We are also looking forward to participating in international birding fairs such as that in the United Kingdom this year to promote Rwanda’s birding potential,” explained Mugisha.
Encouraging more memberships to the association and forming birding clubs in schools will be another strategy employed to sensitize the public about the importance of birding to the country.
Internationally, it is estimated that 7 million bird watchers make trips abroad each year and they spend over $7 billion.
There is need to encourage Rwandans to embrace this product since statistics indicate that last year, 69 percent of bird watchers were foreigners, 10 percent were foreign residents with Rwandans being 21 percent.
A total of 36 visitors were registered last year with the generated revenues falling below $10,000.
“We hope to do better than we did last year with the fierce campaign and sensitization that we are going to carry out this year,” said Mugisha.