Visit Rwanda, the economic booster
VISIT RWANDA, THE ECONOMIC BOOSTER
Rwanda is a small east African country with beautiful people and a beautiful culture that have lived through a traumatic experience, but that is not what this blog is all about. The country was dubbed the land of a thousand hills because of the plentiful hills that characterize the country’s topography. Ironically, though its nickname is the land of a thousand hills, you would think that it’s a place with tourist attractions in abundance, and it’s a tourism destination for many people. It is partially accurate, but that is something that we will dive right into as we continue.
Rwanda is a landlocked country with limited resources; agriculture has been the backbone of the economy for a long time till the government diversified the economy. The tourism sector has been a fast progressing sector with a 25% growth rate and a grossing income of $305 million in 2014 (Investment, 2021) and $490 million in 2019
Rwanda doesn’t have much to offer in terms of abundant tourist attractions. Still, the history of the country, the culture, the scenery, and the wildlife available in the country managed to attract tourists to this beautiful country.
The Visit Rwanda Partnership
To boost the development of the sector and get the countrymen and foreigners to put Rwanda as their travel destination on their lists, the government launched two campaigns. The Rwanda Development Board first launched the Tembera U Rwanda to encourage the locals to participate in domestic tourism and Visit Rwanda, a literal translation of the first campaign, to attract foreigners to tourism in the country.
Visit Rwanda is a partnership campaign between the republic of Rwanda and the football teams of Arsenal and Paris St Germain. The football players of these teams wear sleeves that have the Visit Rwanda Logo to market the country as a travel destination. The Arsenal deal in its first year was able to make returns worth $44 million despite all the controversy. (About the Partnership – Visit Rwanda, n.d.).
Tembera U Rwanda is a domestic campaign to encourage and pique the interest of the Locals to participate in tourism. Most Rwandans believe that foreigners or well-off people do tourism. Some don’t even care about tourism and know what it is all about. Still, RDB introduced the campaign to clear all these misconceptions and get the public interested in tourism through social media, using local influencers and special offers to take a few people to see tourist attractions in the country.
What does Tourism bring to the table?
Tourism, in general, is a very productive sector for the ones involved and the country; for Rwanda, the industry is a source of employment for over 90,000 people ranging from tour guides, hotel and lodge managers, veterinary and travel car rental business owners, to name a few.
The sector contributes 14.9% to the overall GDP of the country in the year 2018(Kimaru, 2020) to which a portion of the revenue is shared between the projects from the communities around the national parks. The sector also provides markets for local arts and crafts because most of the time, there are arts and crafts markets in the vicinity of the attractions. The tourists visit them looking for souvenirs in the form of artworks or a made-in Rwanda product.
There are also instances where the tourists leave donations and form partnerships with other businesses such as schools, orphanages, and community projects around the area. The contributions range from $19.37 for a local tourist and $32.14 for an international tourist per trip(Spenceley et al., 2010).
What is holding back Tourism?
Regardless of the government’s efforts to promote the sector, it is still crippled, but the overreliance on a single tourism product(Spenceley et al., 2010). Rwanda is one of the three-country in the whole world where mountain gorillas can be found. They are found in the Volcanic national park, which the country shares with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the two other countries where these endangered species are located. These mountain gorillas have been a symbol of tourism for Rwanda for a long time alongside Rwanda’s nickname, the land of a thousand hills.
The country doesn’t have a variety of species in the three national parks found there, which doesn’t attract tourists because the neighboring countries have more animals and extensive national parks.
Another setback is that there are not enough trained human resources in this sector, which hinders the quality of service. A few schools offer tourism courses and hospitality training, but they just opened up, and their standards are not of the highest level(Spenceley et al., 2010)
The lack of limited infrastructure and the available ones are of poor quality is another hindrance that tourism in Rwanda faces(Spenceley et al., 2010). There are not enough quality hotels or roads that make the stay of the tourists worth it.
Inadequate community engagement hinders the sector’s progress because having the community be invested in tourism development would ensure sustainability, conservation, and hospitality improvement(Spenceley et al., 2010).
Tourism in Rwanda isn’t all about visiting the mountain gorillas or coming to see the land of a thousand hills. Still, as a recommendation, dark tourism should also be promoted because Rwanda experienced one of the most atrocious crimes against humanity in 1994 but rose from the ashes to become one of the safest countries on the continent. Dark tourism should be encouraged to tell Rwanda’s story from the origin, not from Hotel Rwanda, and to show the world that humanity and development can be restored with unity and resilience.
Finally, Rwandans should take advantage of the attractions near them, participate in tourism and invest in the sector because the revenue will develop their country.
About the Partnership – Visit Rwanda. (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://www.visitrwanda.com/arsenal/about-the-partnership/
Spenceley, A., Habyalimana, S., Tusabe, R., & Mariza, D. (2010). Benefits to the poor from gorilla tourism in Rwanda. Development Southern Africa, 27(5), 647–662. https://doi.org/10.1080/0376835x.2010.522828
RDB.(2020). Rdb.rw. https://rdb.rw/investment-opportunities/invest-in-tourism/
Kimaru, E. (2020, November 19). How Rwanda Tourism Sector Is Adapting To Covid-19. Empower Africa. https://www.empowerafrica.com/how-rwanda-tourism-sector-is-adapting-to-covid-19/