Tourism is expected to get a boost from the newly-launched Rulindo Cultural Centre and a Cultural Tourism guide book.
The new tourist spot and guide book were unveiled in Rulindo District, yesterday, as the country marked the World Tourism Day.
Speaking at the function, the Minister for Sports and Culture, Julienne Uwacu, said the government has adopted a policy that seeks to improve the tourism sector, specifically cultural tourism.
“Our tourism shouldn’t only be about the parks, gorillas and a few museums in the country. Our country has a unique history that can attract visitors to learn about our traditions if we opened cultural centres across the country,” the minister said.
Uwacu commended Rulindo for being the first district to open a cultural centre and urged other local governments to emulate the Norther Province district.
She assured them of the ministry’s support toward cultural tourism development.
“Cultural centres will help us preserve our history, keeping the memories of our forefathers’ traditions. Let’s visit and explore the country’s rich traditions before we make them known to the visitors,” Uwacu said.
The new cultural centre, located 25 kilometres from Kigali city along Kigali-Musanze highway, has so far cost Rwf590 million. The construction works continue, according to Belise Kariza, the chief tourism officer at Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
It is constructed at a place known as Kukirenge (on the foot), a name derived from King Ruganzu II Ndoli, who stepped on the rock and left his footprint on it, according to traditional folk stories.
Kariza said the historical rock, which is currently kept in the national museum in Huye District, should be returned to the new centre as soon as it is fully completed, saying the footprint is the centre’s foundation.
“This centre is a display of local heritage and traditional Rwandan arts and culture, aligning with the government’s vision to improve tourism product diversification to enhance the sector’s contribution to national development,” she said.
Rwanda targets annual tourism revenues of $860 million by 2017, up from $305 million (about Rwf224 billion) in 2014/15 financial year.
“This anticipated boost in tourism revenue reveals a pressing need for the development of new and innovative tourism products,” Kariza added.
Tourism guide book
World Tourism Day 2015 was marked under the theme, “One billion tourists, one billion opportunities,” pointing to the global collective effort to grow tourism’s potential to generate countless opportunities that benefit significantly the world’s population.
“The government embraced the theme as it scaled up efforts to develop and diversify the country’s tourism potential, while the sector is still the leading export earner, recording an annual growth rate of 4 per cent,” Kariza said.
During the ceremony, RDB unveiled Rwanda’s first tourism guide book titled, ‘Cultural Tourism of Rwanda,’ a comprehensive 325-page book showcasing the uniqueness and rich cultural heritage of the country.
Aimé Bosenibamwe, the governor of Northern Province, commended Rulindo on opening another tourist attraction – in addition to the Volcano park’s mountain gorillas for which the province is famous.
“I urge the people of Rulindo to make good use of this centre. It brings you job and business opportunities. It is small at the moment but we will grow it and make it more attractive,” he said.
Local and regional visitors to Rulindo Cultural Centre will pay Rwf500, while international visitors will be charged Rwf3,000, according to RDB.