Int'l Tour firm enters Rwandan market

Tourists coming into the country can now choose from a larger pool of tours and travel operators following the entrance of Wilderness Safaris in the Rwandan tourism ecosystem.
Tourists head to volcanoes in Musanze District. (File)
Tourists head to volcanoes in Musanze District. (File)

Tourists coming into the country can now choose from a larger pool of tours and travel operators following the entrance of Wilderness Safaris in the Rwandan tourism ecosystem.

The Botswana-based tours firm brings to Rwanda over 30 years experience having operated in various countries on the African continent.

Wilderness Safaris announced its debut to the Rwandan market this week, investing in two lodges that will double as conservation projects.

Just like in other countries where the firm has presence, their investments in Rwanda are characterised with conservation elements and partnership with local communities.

Already, plans for the establishment of one lodge are complete while negotiations for the second one are underway between the firm and the Rwanda Development Board(RDB). The two establishments are expected to be open for business next year.

The firm which is known for high end luxury Safaris operates an estimated 50 luxury camps in Botswana, Congo Brazzaville, Kenya, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Among the features the firm offers include a bush airline, Wilderness Air and tailor made tours.

Bisate lodge, one of the lodges set to be constructed will be located close to Volcanoes National Park, in Musanze District and will also serve as a conservation and community project with its first phase focusing on indigenous reforestation of a core 64 acre site.

According to the firm, the reforestation will be executed in close partnership with the newly constituted 320 member Tuzamurana Cooperative.

Keith Vincent, chief executive officer of Wilderness Safaris said that discussions with RDB were underway to develop a lodge in the Gishwati-Mukura National Park which is just 15-minutes away by helicopter south.

‘‘It will be more ambitious in the scope of its vision to use responsible ecotourism to effect far-reaching and positive environmental change,” Vincent said.

He noted that their investment decision was partly informed by the country’s investment climate.

“We have found the government, ecotourism industry and conservation community to be welcoming and hospitable in partnering with us to pioneer a new kind of ecotourism in this inspirational country,” the chief executive noted.

Yamina Karitanyi, head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB, welcomed the new players, noting that discussions were at an advanced stage to establish the second lodge.

She said that the entrance would enhance Rwanda’s tourism product which was important to the entire industry.

“It will enhance our tourism product offering which is important to the industry at large, more high end clients will visit Rwanda, further, impacting the economy and increasing the country’s prominence as a tourist destination,” Karitanyi told this paper.

Currently, there are over 40 tour operators in the country offering a range of packages, including access into neighbouring Uganda and Kenya under the East African Tourist Visa initiative.

In April, the joint marketing tourism committee under the Northern corridor integration programme said that they would pursue regional markets which were bearable and sustainable compared to international markets given the trend of travel advisories that have been sent to the countries in region.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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