Community-based tourism is likely to generate in excess of Rwf200m for Rwandan rural communities by 2012 if well developed.
Davidson M. Mugisha, the Director of World Tours Rwanda, a local private company said that the income will be generated by residents as land managers, entrepreneurs, service and produce providers as well as employees.
Community-based tourism is whereby local residents (often rural, poor and economically marginalized) invite tourists through cooperatives to visit their community activities as a way of generating income.
“At least part of the tourist income is set aside for projects which provide benefits to the community as a whole,” Mugisha told Business Times.
He said that this new tourism niche enables tourists to discover local habitats and wildlife by celebrating and respecting traditional cultures, rituals plus wisdom.
“The community will be aware of the commercial and social value placed on their natural and cultural heritage through tourism, and this will foster community based conservation of these resources,” Mugisha said.
Citing 30 members of community-based tourism in Bugesera district under World Tours Rwanda where Rwf8 million was generated in 2009, Mugisha said that residents in rural Rwanda can boost their income by 95 percent.
“The advantage of community-based tourism is that it does not rely on weather seasons,” Mugisha explained.
He added that the reconciliation village in Bugesera where Genocide survivors live with Genocide executor has impressed a host of tourists.
However, he mentioned that the project (community-based tourism) is held back by limited awareness and lack of involvement by stakeholders.