[PHOTOS]: RDB moves to align Kwita-Izina with World Tourism Month

As part of the global movement to raise awareness on the impact of tourism on communities, Rwanda’s annual gorilla naming ceremony, Kwita-Izina, has been aligned to the World Tourism Month.
Nineteen baby gorillas from the Volcanoes National Park are expected to be named in the 2016 Kwita Izina ceremony in September. The photo was taken last year in Bisoke Volcano. (File)
Nineteen baby gorillas from the Volcanoes National Park are expected to be named in the 2016 Kwita Izina ceremony in September. The photo was taken last year in Bisoke Volcano. (File)

As part of the global movement to raise awareness on the impact of tourism on communities, Rwanda’s annual gorilla naming ceremony, Kwita-Izina, has been aligned to the World Tourism Month.

This was announced yesterday by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) during a news conference.

 

According to the organisers, the 12th edition of the Kwita-Izina will be held in September, the same month in which the world celebrates how tourism affects global communities socially, economically, culturally and politically.

 
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Belise Kariza (C), RDB's chief tourism officer briefs journalists on Kwita-Izina 2016 as Francine Havugimana (R), the vice chairperson of Rwanda Tourism Chamber in charge of hospitality at PSF and Joseph Birori, the chairman of Rwanda Tours and Travel Association look on during a press conference yesterday at RDB.

Belise Kaliza, the chief tourism officer at RDB, said that the ceremony was shifted from between June and July to September since the last year, as part of boosting tourism businesses.

 

“This year, we intend to align the Kwita-Izina celebrations with the Northern Corridor Integration Project (NICP) activities and, more importantly, with the World Tourism Month activities,” she said.

Kaliza added that having the naming ceremony coincide with the World Tourism Month gives the event more exposure, giving the country a chance to share its sustainable tourism and conservation story globally.

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Birori speaks as Kariza looks on during a press conference yesterday at RDB. 

Benefiting the local people

Kaliza added that this year’s Kwita-Izina will be organised in such a way that involve the local people more.

“This year will be a national celebration of conservation and sustainable tourism achievements. However, to interest the local people (Rwandans), we have a number of activities set to take place during that month where, for instance, trade exhibitions are organised to provide opportunities for Rwandans to participate and explore what their country has to offer,” she noted.

According to Kaliza, a survey that was conducted to find out why local tourism is still low, 15 per cent of the respondents said it is because of lack of information while the rest indicated that they lacked money.

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Havugimana speaks during the press conference as Kariza looks on yesterday at RDB.

In light of this, RDB officials say they are closely working with different private sector stakeholders to set the minimal tariffs for local people to easily enable them tour the country’s features.

Private sector intervention

Meanwhile, the private sector has pledged to play a key role in building a sustainable tourism industry.

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Journalists follow the press conference yesterday at RDB.

According to Francine Havugimana, the vice-chairperson of the Chamber of Tourism at the Private Sector Federation, strong partnerships with the private sector and government is crucial.

“As the private sector, we need to actively take part and probably take full responsibility in the future to organise these events. We have realised how beneficial they are to all of us, just from the hotel owners and travel and tour agencies, to local communities,” she said.

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A primary school was built for the community around the gorillas' home - volcanoes. (All photos by Faustin Niyigena)

Meanwhile, this year’s celebration will be held under the theme, ‘United in Driving Growth through Conservation’, during which 19 baby gorillas are expected to be named.

Kwita-Izina was initiated as a result of efforts by the government in collaboration with various conservation partners, private sector and local communities to actively protect the endangered mountain gorillas.

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