For hundreds of years, tourism has been an important sector contributing significantly to the economies of many countries around the world. The industry is referred to as an ‘invisible export” and significant in the economic and social development of any country.
Apart from its capacity to create jobs, reduce poverty, and foster human development and environmental sustainability, tourism benefits a country in a more number of ways and brings immense opportunities for an all-inclusive growth.
Rwanda recognizes this and has created a conducive environment for tourism to flourish.
The country has shown strong commitment to promote the sector by, for instance, successfully marketing the destination Rwanda, involving the private sector, putting up required infrastructure and generally improving the country’s business environment, through relaxing Tourism Visas, among others.
Thus, the sector has become one of the fastest growing service industries in the country and still has great potential for further expansion and diversification.
While tourism industry is succeeding, and while perception of the country as a destination is improving worldwide, we still need to put in more effort, especially in promoting domestic tourism.
It is said that the development of a domestic tourism industry offers the opportunity to generate a more diverse and economically sustainable tourism industry. Domestic tourism is an educational process for the environment since it plays an important role in influencing public view points.
It is a programme where residents are encouraged to visit natural attractions within their own country. Once the local residents have developed an appreciation and passion for the attractions in their country, the tourism equation becomes complete.
Tourism is one of the means of cultural communication; it produces social and cultural benefits for the domestic population who might not otherwise be able to experience the cultural and natural richness of their own countries.
This is through the opportunities for the exchange of ideas and practices that domestic travelers can bring.
Residents will also potentially develop stronger interest in promoting appreciation of a country’s endowed resources and greater awareness of the achievements of the national institutions.
In addition to discovery, encountering others, and experiencing something unique, local tourists also seek a diversity of destinations and tourism activities; in other words, the range of adventures are broad and these potentials are of immense advantage.
Domestic tourism can be used to stabilise the frequently cyclical and seasonal flows of inbound tourism. This is through encouraging domestic tourism to occur during the traditionally slow “off peak” demand periods that is normally associated with international tourism. It is opportunities that exist to fortify the tourism facility and programme utilisation levels.
When developed in a meaningful way, domestic tourism is a sustainable and complementary way to international tourism and offers destinations an exceptional platform for year-round tourism economy growth and development. And, domestic tourism creates a destination that stands proud as a place for both the people of the world, and those of the destination, to explore and enjoy as their own.
Tourism leaders truly understand the business of tourism and the need to leverage the trend of heightened appeal in domestic tourism. They recognise the fundamental value of the industry and requirements to channel attention and invest towards encouraging nationals to holiday in-country, and see for themselves what foreigners are traveling half way across the world to come and see. Tourist agents can reaffirm that the experience is unforgettable for their esteemed patrons.
To harness domestic tourism potential, more efforts are required to locally create more awareness about our tourist destinations and exploring niche segments. Strengthening and improving more innovation in offering authentic, affordable experiences and packages that meet the needs of potential local travelers can play a pivotal role in achieving this.
Rwanda’s homegrown solutions and initiatives have all along been recognised as some of the best tools driving the country’s socioeconomic transformation. Initiating a vibrant domestic tourism sector and encouraging local actions in tourism will definitely project the country further as a multidimensional tourist destination.
There are many stories, learning about things, the traditional crafts and mythology hidden in our museums which we might not have heard or seen.
We must capitalize on the good name our country has created out there and embrace domestic tourism. Many countries’ tourism sectors are ailing because of insecurity and other political issues. Rwanda, on the other hand, is one of the safest countries to live in, besides the evident political will for growth of all sectors of the economy.
In addition, Rwanda Development Board has of late run a significant campaign in promoting Rwanda as a Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Events (MICE) destination.
Let us have more locals moving around this beautiful nation to visit the countless destinations the country is blessed with. I am sure we would not miss to learn some of the many things we might not have known about gorillas, national parks, lakes, national museums and many hidden fortunes of the Remarkable Rwanda!