VENTURES AFRICA – About 24, 000 United States tourists visited Rwanda, which has seen a major tourism boom after revenue from the sector and support industries firmed by 17 percent in 2012 compared to the previous contrasting year.
Major tourist attractions in the east African country include the Congo Nile Trail, Lake Kivu, and mountain gorillas, Akagera and Nyungwe National Parks and various museums. Tourist arrivals from the country’s neighbours; the DRC, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi made up for around 915,000 of those who visited the country in the past year compared to about 714,000 regional visitors recorded for the previous year.
The United States had the most number of visitors after arrivals from that country increased to 24,041 followed by India that had 14,957. Arrivals from the United Kingdom stood at 13, 355; Belgium had 9,192 while those from Germany were 9,180.
The Rwandan tourism sector bagged about $281.8 million in the 2012 review period against the previous comparative period’s revenues of $251.3 million. This translates to a 17 percent jump in tourism revenues, according to the annual Tourism Report released by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
“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,” said Clare Akamanzi, the RDB’s acting chief executive officer.
Hotels in Rwanda have reportedly recorded a 30 percent rise in room occupations, with African Business Review quoting Denis Karera, the chairman of the Association of Hotel and Restaurant Owners, saying last week that hotels in the country are able to accommodate up-to 8 000 visitors at one time.
“This growth made it possible to surpass the target that was set to have at least 6,500 rooms and today, we can comfortably accommodate up to 8,000 people in Kigali.”
Akamanzi added that Rwanda had managed to surpass its “tourism export promotion target of between $276 million and $281 million” while Rica Rwigamba, the head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB added that “the tourism sector is on an upward trajectory”.
A surge in tourism investments had helped boost the growth of the tourism sector at a time when the major airline operators – South African Airways, Royal Dutch KLM, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines – have opened routes into the country.
In the current year, Rwanda is expecting to raise its tourism revenues to $317 million receipts in 2013.