The tourism sector in Rwanda plays an important role in the country’s revenue and the largest foreign exchange earner that supports the government in its developmental programs.
A report from Rwanda Development Board (RDB), shows that tourism revenues have increased by 11% this year generating US$ 128.3 Million of the first semester compared to US$ 115.6 Million fetched in the same period in 2011.
The Mountain Gorillas contributed greatly to the most income with most tourists in the country booking to see the rare species that live in the Virunga Mountains.
Rwanda’s tourism and conservation efforts are also reflected in the commitment to the contribution towards the communities’ welfare under the revenue sharing framework, RDB recently increased the price of gorilla permits to 50 percent US$750 which comes at a time when there is significant growth of the gorilla population as well as an increasing demand for gorilla tourism.
The Head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB Rica Rwigamba, said that “There was a noticeable increase in revenues, visits and value of registered tourism investments as well as projected jobs created in the first semester.
“If we continue to achieve as reflected by the results in the first semester, we will indeed surpass our targets and more importantly, this will drive growth and generate wealth for Rwandans.” She added.
RDB says it has spent Rwf1.4 billion on 220 projects in 12 districts surrounding national parks.
According to Ms Rwigamba, it is such community investments and that have ensured the Gorillas are safe and the general peace and stability in Rwanda that has helped maintain a steady growth of the gorilla population.
Rwanda shares the Virunga with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, however , the safety in Rwanda has not only ensured safety of Gorillas but helped the constant flow of tourists.
Rwigamba stated that Rwanda’s tourism progress is attributed to peace and security. Visitor safety is guaranteed as usual. We would like to reassure visitors to Rwanda that it is business as usual here and that it is extremely safe and secure to travel to and within the country.
“To the all-in-one experience in Rwanda from diverse wildlife in the national parks, to the magnificent scenery, amazing climate and the rare mountain gorillas, peace and security continues to be a magnetic pool for visitors in Rwanda.”
During 2011, gorillas generated $9.6 million which was part of the $252 million revenues generated from the tourism industry.
Since the beginning of this year the country has so far hosted an estimate of 493,744 visitors in the first semester 2012 corresponding to an increase of 22% compared to 2011 in the same period and recorded a remarkable 16% increase in leisure visitors as well as an 8% increase in business visitors.