Beyond gorillas: Inside diverse reasons travelers flock to Rwanda

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 2 May 2024 at 12:48

Rwanda continues to experience a steady increase in the number of visitors flocking to the country, with the figure soaring by 38 per cent to reach 1,488,347 in 2023 compared to the previous year.

While the perception of foreigners visiting the country has always been centered around leisure, tourism, and enchanting trips to gorilla sites, it’s interesting to note that more than half of the foreigners who visited Rwanda in 2023 (51.1%) did so for business purposes.

The growth can also be linked to a significant number of foreign investments registered in Rwanda, which also grew by 50 per cent to hit $2.4 billion (RWF 3 trillion) in 2023. These investments are projected to create more than 40,000 jobs in the next five years, according to the Rwanda Development Board.

The latest statistics from RDB show that 22.2 per cent of persons who entered Rwanda in 2023 were in transit to various destinations worldwide.

Another 11.2 per cent of the foreigners visited Rwanda for holiday and recreational purposes, with the majority of this number comprising 25,927 gorilla visitors.

Notably, the number of gorilla visitors in 2023 marked a 29.4 per cent increase from 2022, the highest number of gorilla visitors recorded in Rwanda’s history.

Gorilla tourism is a major revenue earner for Rwanda, with tourists paying at least US $1500 per person to see gorillas in the country. This fee covers the gorilla trekking permit, which grants access to the park and the gorillas.

Rwanda netted $620 million (RWF 793 billion) in tourism revenue in 2023, representing a 36 per cent growth compared to 2022.

Meanwhile, 6 per cent of the foreigners who visited Rwanda in 2023 were in the country for official missions, while 3.9 per cent of the visitors were there to attend conferences and other international forums.

Another 3.7 per cent of the visitors were in Rwanda for unspecified reasons, 1.3 per cent for education purposes, and 0.6 per cent were in the country for medical reasons.