KIGALI - Tourism in Rwanda will get a major boost after the country was named among the top five “Emerging Destinations” during the 2011 Wanderlust Travel Awards.
The ranking was based on a worldwide online poll conducted by British travel magazine, Wanderlust.
Following the annual poll that attracted votes from over 2,000 readers of the magazine, Rwanda was the only African country listed among the top five.
In a contest that was topped by Burma/Myanmar with 97.14%, Rwanda came as the top African emerging destination in 5th position with 93.68%, ahead of Ghana, which was ranked 6th with 93.33%, Malawi in 8th with 89.33 and Libya in 9th position with 88.57%.
The magazine noted that despite Rwanda’s bitter history, the country is “firmly back on the travel map.”
The news was welcomed by Rwanda Development Board, whose head of the Tourism department, Rica Rwigamba, said the rankings will enhance curiosity about the country’s tourism products.
“More people will try to find out more about the destination (Rwanda),” Rwigamba said.
She added that the readers of Wonderlust are among the targeted tourists.
“The people who read Wonderlust are high-end tourists who are within our target market.” Rwigamba noted.
Other stakeholders in the tourism industry, including John Kayihura, a local tourism entrepreneur and former Chairperson of Rwanda Tour and Travel Agency (RTTA), also appreciated the rankings.
“To me, the news is not surprising because Rwanda treats its visitors very well. On top of that, we have a rich history and a variety of tourism sites ranging from the beautiful hills, 23 lakes, gigantic rainforests and many animals, particularly the gorillas” Kayihura said in an interview.
“We are currently discussing ways to diversify the sector by tapping all the tourism resources in the country, so that we can generate as much revenue as we can from this profitable trade.” He added.
According to Rwanda Development Board (RDB) statistics, tourism receipts leaped to $ 200 million (Rwf118.4billion) in 2010, up 14 percent from 2009, with 666,000 tourists visiting the country last year.