There is a common misconception that the tourism attractions that Rwanda has to offer target only foreigners. This mentality does not help develop local tourism and, therefore, needs change.
Rwanda has a number of attractions which are sought after by people from all corners of the world. However, the foreign tourists only come in during particular seasons of the year. When they are not here, some of these sites remain under utilized.
As Rwandans, we should also take time and enjoy the beauty that our country is endowed with. The Rwanda Development Board (RDB), through its Tourism office has, for example, subsidized the price for locals who would like to visit the gorillas.
For a permit, Rwandans only pay $40 and with such a bargain, one would imagine that the locals would flock the Gorilla parks. However, according to statistics from RDB, local tourists constituted only 3 per cent of gorilla visitors in 2009.
We must remember that by visiting the tourism spots, we would not only be enjoying ourselves, but also supporting the industry. It is evident that tourism has massively contributed to the development of communities surrounding these sites and the country at large.
With a new 202 km tourism trail developed by RDB, the Congo –Nile trail, which snakes along the shores of Lake Kivu that was unveiled to journalists last weekend, it is important that locals too are encouraged to discover this new tourist attraction.
In addition to boosting the incomes of communities and businesses that inhabit the areas along the trail, local tourists will also play the role of RDB goodwill agents, thus encouraging and attracting more tourists to the new exciting facility.