Travel and tourism remains Rwanda’s largest source of foreign exchange
Rwanda’s travel and tourism industry witnessed unprecedented growth over the last two years of the review period and remained buoyant throughout 2013. The industry recorded the strongest performance of any in terms of export growth to maintain its position as the highest foreign exchange earner in the small East African state. The country’s business-conducive climate and several recent reforms of the government’s travel and tourism policy such as infrastructure development and a high-end travel and tourism marketing strategy have contributed materially to the momentous growth experienced recently in Rwanda’s travel and tourism industry.
Visa-free access to Rwanda for all African citizens boosts inbound arrivals
The number of inbound arrivals to Rwanda continued to grow towards the end of the review period, even at a time when international tourists are becoming increasingly choosy when selecting destinations due to the adverse economic climate. Rwanda has made improvements to its visa legislations so as to boost visitor arrivals. Since January 2013, Rwanda has been offering free entry visas to all African citizens arriving at its borders. This visa on-arrival option has helped boost arrivals from several African countries and has also led to reductions in waiting times at several border posts. In addition, the launch of a single tourist visa for visitors to Uganda and Kenya starting January 2014 is set to attract more visitors looking for a true African experience.
Conservation of mountain gorillas generates highest travel and tourism revenues
Rwanda is well-known for its mountain gorillas, with gorilla trekking being its main tourist attraction. This endangered species has greatly contributed to the nation’s travel and tourism revenues thanks to the profits generated through events such as the Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony and the conservation efforts of the Rwandan government, which seeks to ensure the safety of its gorillas so as to maintain the constant flow of tourists to the country. A well-planned annual gorilla-naming ceremony and increased conservation efforts are set to help attract more visitors to Rwanda and boost incoming tourist receipts.
Rwanda’s capital is increasingly attracting leading international hotel chains
Rwanda’s hospitality industry is growing rapidly, with several international hotel chains such as Hilton, Marriot, Sheraton, Kempinski and Radisson expected to establish outlets in the country during the forecast period. Increasing interest among the leading international hoteliers to establish outlets in Rwanda, mainly in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, is due to the nation’s flourishing travel and tourism industry, which has led to growing demand for travel accommodation and conference facilities. The presence of leading hotel brands is set to help raise the nation’s profile in terms of hospitality investment and will also boost hotel supply, increasing the number of guest rooms on offer and attracting a wider range of inbound tourists.
Travel and tourism has potential to propel Rwanda to new heights
Strong economic growth in recent years has opened the door for Rwanda to become a very promising international travel and tourism destination. The country has been doing many things right and is even looked to as a model of sustainable tourism development. Its travel and tourism industry has enormous potential to drive growth in its vibrant economy thanks to its natural beauty and wildlife attractions. With continued investment by the Rwandan government, growth in the travel and tourism industry is expected to remain positive throughout the forecast period. This is set to enable Rwanda to achieve its development goal as set out in the 10-year sustainable travel and tourism master plan called Vision 2020 and is also set to remain an important foreign exchange earner. However, there is more to be done in order to boost product diversity and quality of service.
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