ORITPN is taking the tourism industry and community partnership in Rwanda to another level.
ORITPN has built a community lodge, health centres, classrooms and water tanks along the frontier of the Virunga in the districts of Musanze and Bulera (TNT No. 1516, Kigali June 13 2008).
In addition, the road to the community lodge, a difficult terrain is beginning to open up economic opportunities to these previously neglected communities.
The tourism industry in many African countries pays lip service to communities residing in areas of tourist attraction.
These communities are normally far removed from development activities, impoverished and uneducated.
Their contribution to the tourist industry is normally a relegation to performing cultural dances for tourists around campfires all night long on empty stomachs.
These men and women and sometimes children have to walk back to their dwellings in the early hours of the morning.
There have been reports in some countries where these cultural performers have been mauled by wild animals, which have obviously established the routine of these humans.
Communities are also encouraged by the tourism industry to sell handcrafts as an economic activity but some of the crafts are of such poor quality that some tourists who come from countries, which have long appropriated the continent’s original artefacts, know better than to buy poor quality arts and crafts.
As a result, people in these communities often cannot sustain themselves and their families by working in the tourism industry.
However, our weaving cottage industry is making strides and has taken the traditional basket to greater heights but it is only a fraction of the potential for arts and crafts in Rwanda.
We also need to diversify economic activities and become more creative and business savvy to capture this competitive global market.
In our quest to uplift communities let us promote positive aspects of our culture gainfully and discard backward and subservient practices.
Meaningful community participation with tangible benefits is critical to the tourism industry an important pillar of our economy. Continue the good work ORITPN.