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Rwanda dismisses US travel advisory over Congo crisis

Posted on 06 December 2012 by peter


A tourist relaxes at the Serena-Rubavu beachside in July (Courtesy photo)

A tourist relaxes at the Serena-Rubavu beachside in July (Courtesy photo)

Despite the crisis in eastern DR Congo and “two isolated skirmishes”, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) says Rwanda remains one of the safest places for tourists and all other travelers.

The agency has also reassured the business community that it is safe to travel to all parts of Rwanda. The situation in Eastern DRC has resulted in two isolated skirmishes on Rwandan territory which were rapidly contained and border security has been reinforced to prevent recurrence.

“We would like to reassure visitors that it is business as usual at all our tourism destinations,” said Clare Akamanzi, acting CEO of RDB, in a statement on Thursday (December 06).

“Travellers to Rwanda continue to enjoy the magnificent scenery, pleasant climate, rich culture and diverse wildlife in our national parks, including the rare mountain gorillas.”

The US embassy in Kigali released a travel advisory on Monday this week urging Americans to avoid non-essential travel to areas bordering DRC – mainly Rubavu. The US embassy wants Americans to stay away from those areas.

“Pending clarification of the situation, the U.S. Embassy has restricted travel of official Americans to Rubavu District, Volcanoes National Park, the town of Kinigi, and the area to the north and west of Kinigi that abuts Volcanoes National Park,” said the Embassy in a statement posted on its site.

All these singled places are some of Rwanda’s most visited sites by tourists because of the gorillas and the well developed hospitality industry. Rubavu, for example, is home to Hotel Serena.

Despite the conflict in eastern DRC that does not seem to go away for years, tourists have flocked to Rwanda year-in-year-out. The country received more than 680,000 visitors last year. A much bigger number is expected to be recorded by end of this year.

RDB’s Akamanzi noted that tourism has been successful over the past years and continues to be Rwanda’s number one foreign exchange earner.

“While ecotourism remains the key attraction for visitors coming to the land of thousand hills, we are working to increase conference and events tourism, a goal that will be facilitated by newly registered hotel investments such as Marriott, Radisson Blu and most recently Sheraton.”




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