KIGALI - Rwanda Development Board (RDB) through the Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN) are drafting a final action plan that will transform the country into one of the leading tourist destinations in the world.
The plan is being developed with assistance from different stakeholders including potential investors in the tourism sector.
The 10-year draft plan aimed at developing a sustainable tourism sector was presented yesterday to stakeholders in the tourism industry who included hotel owners, tour operators, airlines and other service providers, to seek their views and input.
According to the Director of tourism in ORTPN Emmanuel Werabe, the plan, designed by consultants and technicians from United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), to be implemented in 3 phases, is an all embracing strategy to overhaul the tourism industry. He added that this will in turn increase the turnover from the industry, which is the country’s leading revenue earner.
The plan, based on findings from national surveys conducted by 5 international experts came up with recommendations on organisation, human resource development concepts, investment, research, marketing, all aimed at revamping the tourism industry.
The study identified main challenges the country needs to overcome in order to develop a more sustainable and competitive tourism industry.
It also gave illustrative physical plans for Destination Management Areas (DMA’s) and suggested new tourism policies and laws that could help exploit fully the tourism potential Rwanda is endowed with.
Werabe noted that the plan will turn Rwanda into a world-class tourism destination, adding that with a developed tourism industry that provides quality facilities and services to visitors, the number of tourists visiting the country will swell considerably hence increasing revenues.
The country has embarked on developing the country’s leading DMAs in a bid to increase their potential as tourist magnets.
The 7 priority DMA’s include; Kigali Central Hub, Gisenyi, Kibuye, Nyungwe, Muhazi, Musanze and Akagera.
Efforts will be directed towards improving infrastructure and other facilities used by tourists such as roads, hotels, airports, recreational facilities, shopping malls, resorts, cultural centres and many other products aimed at attracting and making tourists more comfortable.
According to Jim Flannery, the Chief Technical Advisor of the study team, Rwanda possesses massive tourism potential but cannot be fully utilised largely due to lack of enough facilities to support it.
The study revealed that a lot is still lacking especially in infrastructure, visitor facilitation, amenities, attractions, recreational facilities, human resource development, policy regulatory frameworks and competitiveness. He added that Rwanda needs to venture into other tourists’ products not only Mountain Gorillas.
He noted that the country is blessed with iconic tourist’s products including a range of fauna and flora, scenery, good climate, rich culture and history which could be all utilised to generate revenue from tourists.
Rwanda is targeting 1.14 million visitors this year expected to generate US $ 224m in 2009, despite the global financial crisis.
This workshop brought together stakeholders from Kigali City and the Western Province and similar consultations will extend to other parts of the country.