KIGALI - Today Rwanda joins the rest of the World to commemorate the World Tourism Day celebrated every September 27.
For the first time, celebrations organised by the Global Tourism Fraternity were held on the African continent, 30 years after it was declared by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
It is worth noting that from the time the World started celebrating the World Tourism Day, it is the first time in the world tourism history that the day will be commemorated on the African continent.
“Our sister and friendly country of Ghana will be the global venue that will host the World Tourism Day Celebrations. This year’s Theme is “Tourism - Celebrating Diversity,” said Trade and Industry Minister, Monique Nsanzabaganwa.
The purpose of celebrating the World Tourism Day is to raise awareness within the entire international tourism community on the role tourism plays in raising their social-economic, cultural and political values and to look forward to other issues that require urgent global attention and action.
This year’s event also seeks to address global challenges outlined in the UN Millennium Development Goals and to highlight the contributions the tourism sector can make in the attainment of these goals.
UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, in his message to the global community underscores tourism’s potential as a reliable job creator and contributor to economic wealth.
“There is increasing awareness of tourism’s role as a productive activity and its undisputed potential to generate employment, increased government revenues, private sector development and other benefits whether directly or indirectly that make a positive contribution to the well being of the communities world wide,” Rifai said.
Tourism remains the leading foreign exchange earner and contributor of revenue in the country.
Almost 440,000 international visitors arrived in Rwanda during the first semester of 2009, corresponding to a 7% increase compared to 408,000 recorded the same period in 2008.
Overall statistics for the year 2008 indicate an 18% increase in arrivals where more than 980,000 international visitors arrived in Rwanda and generated USD 209m as compared to 826,000 recorded in 2007 and generated USD 138.7m.
In line with the theme for this year, MINICOM and RDB have focused more efforts in diversifying the tourism industry product base to look beyond the Gorilla Tourism in Volcanoes National Park and promoting other national parks such as Nyungwe and Akagera. Other tourism products such as Bird Watching and Conference tourism are also being developed.