Rwanda’s tourism sector greatly depends on mountain gorilla safaris which take place in the Volcanoes national park just 2 hours away from the Kigali city center. Gorillas tourism in Rwanda first caught the public year as early as the 1970’s because of the conservation efforts of Dian Fossey. The mountain gorillas of Rwanda have features in several documentaries hence capturing the interest of also international figures like Bill Gates, Natalie Portman and Ted Turner, who have participated in the annual gorilla naming ceremony of Rwanda which takes place at the foot hill of the Volcanoes national park in Musanze.
Rwanda has come a long way from the horrific genocide to being a very safe and fast growing African country with the cleanest city in Africa. The country has capitalized on mountain gorilla tourism as a valuable conservation tool and a large income earner and has enforced strict rules for the habituation and trekking of gorilla families. Today numbers of travelers are traveling into Rwanda, willing to pay highly (USD 750) for a limited number of permits, which are usually sold out early and require travelers to book early
Foreign Exchange received from gorilla tourism provides funds for conservation mountain gorillas and other national parks. 5% of park revenues goes to development community projects
Besides Gorilla Tourism, Rwanda has 2 other national parks; The Akagera National Park offers a range of wildlife, such as elephants, hippos, giraffes, zebra, The Nyungwe Forest National Park has a large tract of mountain forest and is rich in biodiversity. Guided walks and chimpanzee tracking is offered. Lake Kivu has recreational facilities as well, but there is still significant potential that could be developed.
Rwanda’s tourism has been particularly successful in attracting large numbers of business and conference travelers as compared to other mountain gorilla destination with i the East African Community. Of recent the country is seeing an increase in the number of hotels and other tourism facilities opening up in the different tourists destinations as well as opening of new tourists centers like cultural centers, forest reserves so that the country can keep tourist longer when visiting Rwanda. Looking at export revenue,tourism in Rwanda has already outperformed coffee and tea by a wide margin.
Factors contributing to the increased tourism growth in Rwanda
The Rwandan government has shown a keen interest and support towards development of the tourism sector by declaring and maintaining Rwanda as a safe travel destination with in East Africa. Its not news to the whole world about the horrific manslaughter during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. But today the government has maintained peace and security within the country and this has given the international world confidence to travel in Rwanda.
Further more, the government has greatly involved and encouraged private sector to involve and market Rwanda’s tourism along side the government. The Government has realized tourism as the key to improving people’s livelihood and reducing poverty by directly involving the local community into conservation and protection of gorillas.