Govt urged to diversify tourism sector

The Government should diversify tourism products to attract more tourists and increase the sector’s competitiveness on the regional market.

The Government should diversify tourism products to attract more tourists and increase the sector’s competitiveness on the regional market.

Njambi Kiritu, the director of OD Business Development, a Kenyan consultancy firm working with the Rwanda Tourism chamber to promote service delivery, said although the country was benefiting much from Mountain Gorillas, it was not enough.

“We need to increase the tourism products to attract more visitors and manage to compete on the regional market,” Kiritu said on the sidelines of a training workshop organised for hotel owners and managers to improve service delivery in hospitality sector.

Currently, tourism is Rwanda’s top foreign exchange earner. Last year, the sector generated about Rwf178 billion. So far this year, Rwanda Development Board says the sector has recorded investments worth $32.8 million.

The major country’s tourist attractions are Mountain gorillas, Akagera and Nyungwe national parks, museums, Lake Kivu, bird watching, culture, and Congo Nile Trail, among others.

Kiritu said Rwanda’s ecosystem can generate more income for the country if well developed.

“Sports tourism needs to be developed and other new products,” she said, adding that other regional countries such as Kenya and Tanzania are tapping into a variety of sectors.

Soaring sector

Tourism in East Africa is among the highest earners in terms of investments, with enormous employment opportunities. The growth of the sector is expected to increase with the introduction of regional single tourist visa.

The projected single visa would save potential tourists time and the rigorous process of having to move from one embassy to another to apply for visas to regional countries.

Rwanda is expected to spearhead the establishment of the EAC single visa.

Egide Ruhashya, the manager of Luxury Hotel Ltd, who was among the trainees, underscored the need for investors to understand the operations of hotels.

“Some investors are after money instead of providing quality services to clients. Most of the hotels are managed by family members and these are people who are not knowledgeable about the sector,” he said in a separate interview.

 The training was organised by the Tourism Chamber and supported by Trademark East Africa, a multi-donor organisation that funds and supports EAC integration.

Anataria Karimba, a senior programme officer responsible for private sector and civil society organisations at TMEA, promised support to the sector to enable it meet regional standards.

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