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Rwanda’s Tourism Exceeds Expectations

Rwanda’s Tourism Exceeds Expectations

Tourism is one of the vehicles of development for the east African countries of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. In Kenya the recent political turmoil cost the country billions of dollars in tourism and negatively impacted its neighboring countries. However, there has been a resurgence int the number of tourists coming into the country and the locals have begun to see an increase in terms of earnings. This is especially so in the hospitality industry such as hotels, safari lodges and those involved in the airline industry.

In Rwanda which was a add-on destination to the major tourist destinations of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, there has been such an increase in the number of tourists visiting the country in the recent years further boosting its economy. Rwanda has seen an increase in the number of available rooms to 3,282 from a mere 2,391 in 2007. The ORTPN, which is the body charged with overseeing the tourism industry in Rwanda intends to partner with the private sector and further increase the number of rooms available by 416 before the end of this year.

Rwanda’s major tourist attraction are the mountain gorillas which are found only in the three Great Lakes countries of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Gorilla tour is Rwanda’s major tour activity and a visit to this tiny landlocked country without gorilla trekking is a real waste to say the least. As a result the ORTPN, organizes an annual ceremony, the “Kwita Izina”, in which the new born baby gorillas are CHRISTEN, attracting thousands of locals and international celebrities from as far as Hollywood. Last year alone, Rwanda earned 42.3 million USD from tourism. Early this month, Rwanda saw its tourism revenues sky rocket beyond its expectations of 68 million USD to 80 million USD, that is a whooping 12 million USD extra. This accounts for about 3.7% of Rwanda’s Gross Domestic Product. This figure which was announced by the ORTPN means tourism is Rwanda’s leading foreign exchange earner. The tradition top foreign exchange earners such as coffee and cotton which grossed 35.6M USD and 31.5M USD respectively in 2007 have been leapfrogged.
The influx of tourists to Rwanda has increased by 3.4% and it is expected that in 2009 the country will earn over 148 million USD with about 884,220 tourist coming into the country in the next six months.

This increase in the tourism revenue is mainly attributed to gorilla tours. Mountain gorilla tracking is the main tour attraction in this tiny country which is now Africa’s most densely populated. Annually, thousands of tourists flock this tiny landlocked country to do gorilla trekking in Parc des Volcanoes and also during the baby gorilla naming ceremonies which is usually graced by international celebrities from across the globe.
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