Why are locals not enthusiastic about tourism?

There is no doubt that some people still think Rwanda is a relatively unsafe destination.But why do we have more foreigners touring our country than the citizens themselves?As natives, you would think that we are more enthusiastic about what our country has to offer but, that is not the case. 
More Rwandans should learn to appreciate their beauty environment. The New Times / File
More Rwandans should learn to appreciate their beauty environment. The New Times / File

There is no doubt that some people still think Rwanda is a relatively unsafe destination. But why do we have more foreigners touring our country than the citizens themselves?

As natives, you would think that we are more enthusiastic about what our country has to offer but, that is not the case. 

We boast of things we haven’t even seen like, the Nyungwe canopy walk, national museums, Lake Kivu and the mountain gorillas among others. How many individuals would be willing to pay Rwf 20,000 to go and look at gorillas?

We tend to think this stuff is for international tourists only. Maybe it is more about the question of paying for something that can be viewed on television because that is the mentality of most locals.

According to the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) website, from January to June 2011, Rwanda hosted about 400,000 visitors.

Comparing with 2010 at the same period, international visitors increased by 16 percent while regional visitors (DRC, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and Kenya) increased by 28 percent. However, the percentage of local tourists within the same period is not stated.

Save the tour guides, it is on rare to witness locals touring and trying to find out more about their culture and natural resources. Sadly it is considered a waste of money and mostly ‘a white man’s’ thing.

I think money is the root of the problem. Maybe if things were free of charge, more locals would be willing to get out more.

Some use lame excuses like being afraid of the animals without taking time to think that maybe the likelihood that animals are more afraid of humans is real.

I mean, if you stay a reasonable distance away and not do anything stupid like disrupt their peace then I’m sure it will be okay.

This is our country; it is not enough to be proud of it in words alone, we should be proud of it in actions too. It is true that some people find the beautification of the city a waste of time and money and have never really opened their eyes to how pretty our city looks.

When they see foreigners gazing in awe at the beauty around them they think it’s out of lack of something better to do.

Rwanda is a country with so much to show the world. This doesn’t mean that no natives have shown interest, they are not as vibrant as it should be.

rachelgaruka@yahoo.co.uk