Published February 19, 2013
Rwanda’s tourism sector registered a 17% growth in revenue in 2012, generating US$281.8m in 2012 compared to 2011’s US$251.3m.
Clare Akamanzi, acting chief executive officer of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) says hard work put in overtime by the government contributes to the continued growth of the tourism industry.
“The general conducive business environment Rwanda has and specific reforms that have been put in place for tourism such as marketing and infrastructure and high-end tourism strategy, among others, have led to the unprecedented growth of tourism sector in the country,” Akamanzi said at a Press briefing in Kigali.
She said the tourism industry topped export growth again in 2012 which makes it the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner and one of the top job creators.
On investment promotion, the sector registered projects worth US$323.8m in 2012 compared to US$117.3m generated in 2011 – an increase of 175%.
Rica Rwigamba, the head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB, said: “the tourism sector is on an upward trajectory; we are now working to enhance the sector through continuous product diversification while putting on an excellent service delivery.”
She said the growth of investors helped boost tourism, which resulted in putting the country in the top end of the tourist destinations in the region.
For instance, major international airlines such as KLM, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways and South African Airlines have opened their routes to Rwanda.
“There was a noticeable increase in revenues as we surpassed our targets due to the huge arrival of investors this year in the tourism industry,” Rwigamba added.
The sector projects to generate US$317m receipts in 2013, according to export promotion strategy.
The statistics show that visitors from neighbouring countries of Congo-Kinshasa, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya accounted for 915,000 visits in 2012 compared to 714,000 in 2011. However, visitors from non-neighboring states increased to 161,186 in 2012 from 159,579 in 2011.
Leisure visitors accounted for about 97,000, while business visitors were about 422,000.
The US recorded the highest number of visitors, with 24,041, followed, by India (14,957), UK (13,355), Belgium (9,192) and Germany (9,180).
Rwigamba said: “We are working hand-in-hand with the tourism chamber to improve customer service and to solve the skills gap that seems to be a hindrance to better service delivery.”
Rwanda boasts of tourist attractions such as Mountain gorillas, Akagera and Nyungwe national parks, museums, Lake Kivu, bird watching, culture, and Congo Nile Trail, among others.