The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has revealed that for the first semester of 2012, Tourism revenues have increased by 11% compared to the same period last year in 2011. The tourism sector is estimated to have generated US $128.3m compared to US$115.6m generated in the same period last year.
In addition, RDB wishes to inform and reassure tourists and the business community that it is safe to travel to the Volcanoes National Park in Northern Rwanda despite the on-going conflict in the neighbouring country of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Rica Rwigamba, Head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB said that Rwanda’s tourism progress is attributed to peace and security: “Visitor safety is guaranteed as usual. We would like to reassure visitors to Rwanda that it is business as usual here and that it is extremely safe and secure to travel to and within the country. In addition to the all-in-one experience in Rwanda from diverse wildlife in the national parks, to the magnificent scenery, amazing climate and the rare mountain gorillas; peace and security continues to be a magnetic pool for visitors in Rwanda.”
Rwanda also hosted an estimate of 493,744 visitors in the first semester 2012 corresponding to an increase of 22% compared to 2011 in the same period and recorded a remarkable 16% increase in leisure visitors as well as an 8% increase in business visitors.
In terms of investment promotion, in the first semester only (January to June), the Tourism sector has so far registered projects worth US$ 184.1m. These projects are expected to create 1,328 jobs.
Rica Rwigamba, Head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB 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. We believe that 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.”
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 750$ which will consequently also increase the contribution to the communities as well as the activities in conservation. Indeed, Rwanda places conservation and community development at the core of the sustainable tourism agenda.
In addition to the current room capacity of more than 6500 today, the government is encouraging more investment in accommodation facilities, hotels and restaurants in order to match the ever increasing visitors’ number.
Tourism is the largest foreign exchange earner with $251 million earned in 2011.