As the world marked the World Tourism Day yesterday, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) announced plans to increase threefold, earnings from tourism to $860 million in the next two years.
Tourism revenues collected last year totaled to $293 million while over the last decade, leisure and adventure tourism have risen dramatically mainly due to tourism experiences on offer, according to the board.
World Tourism Day was marked globally under the theme ‘Tourism and Community Development.
According to the head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB, Ambassador Yamina Karitanyi, celebrating the day is an occasion to reflect on how Rwanda is investing in facilities to meet growing demand, especially for meetings and conferences.
Tourism remains at the top of the country’s foreign exchange earners and has retained a share of international business while the country’s opportunities to grow its tourism services are immense, ranging from hosting meetings and conferences, tapping into religious and cultural experiences, taking advantage of its eco and national parks and expanding water and leisure sports.
Karitanyi pointed out that Rwanda was on course to implement the national tourism master plan designed to guide the sector’s contribution to economic growth in line with Vision 2020.
“We are making progress with initiatives aimed at meeting the growing tourism demand in Rwanda. Our new conference facility, the Kigali Convention Center, which will be the largest in East and Central Africa, is nearing completion and should open soon,” she said in a statement.
Rwanda has since invested in the convention bureau and other infrastructure and is seeking investors for spa and golf resort hotels along Lake Kivu and a cable car system on the slopes of the Volcanoes National Park. In addition, a new cultural village will be set up in Kigali to showcase a spectrum of the nation’s heritage in one setting.
According to RDB, since 2005, Rwf1.962 billion has been disbursed under the ‘giving back to community initiative’ to fund 360 community projects across the country, including schools and hospitals around the parks and support for community-owned projects. Under EDPRS II, the target is to grow tourism revenues by 25% annually. In order to achieve this, RDB intends to diversify tourism experiences, develop and expand the needed infrastructure and focus on service delivery and capacity building to enable the sector to grow.
As a result, Karitanyi said, the projects are a clear demonstration of the extent that Rwanda has achieved in gearing up for a surge in tourism demand.
“We know that recent innovations such as the single tourist visa will continue to be significant in our overall tourism sector growth,” she said.
The 90 – day visa costs $100 and gives a tourist access to three countries- Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.