Rwanda’s gorilla visitors hit historic high in 2023

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 24 April 2024 at 05:11

The number of tourists visiting gorilla sites in Rwanda grew by 29.4 percent to hit 25,927 in 2023, a new report by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) shows.

This is the highest number of gorilla visitors recorded in Rwanda in the country’s history.

Gorilla tourism is a major revenue earner for Rwanda. Tourists pay 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.

The new report further shows that the tourism sector recorded an impressive growth to record $650 million (RWF 832 billion) in revenues last year, representing a 35 percent increase in revenue compared to 2022.

Additionally, the Board reported that the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) sector generated more than $95 million (RWF 121.5 billion) in revenue in 2023, marking a 48 percent growth compared to 2022.

Rwanda hosted over 160 events and an estimated 65,000 delegates in 2023.

Other milestones recorded in the Tourism sector include the upgrade of Nyungwe National Park into a UNESCO World Heritage site and the launch of the Mantis Kivu Queen Uburunga, a luxury houseboat that offers a scenic experience of exploring Lake Kivu.

Additionally, the tourism sector recorded the signing of several partnerships and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs). These include the Visit Rwanda - Bayern Munich Partnership, a five-year football and tourism promotion partnership, and the Vetrak Clubs World Champion (VCWC) deal that will see Rwanda host the next three editions of the VCWC football tournament at Amahoro National Stadium.

The new statistics come at a time when the tourism sector is projected to fully recover from the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, having made a significant rebound in 2023.

According to a survey UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, the sector achieved 88 per cent growth of pre-pandemic levels last year.

Total export revenues from tourism, encompassing passenger transport, reached approximately $1.6 trillion in 2023, nearly 95 per cent of the $1.7 trillion recorded in 2019.

Projections suggest a continuation of this positive trend, with estimates indicating a 2 per cent growth in international tourist arrivals above 2019 levels.

The number of tourists visiting gorilla sites in Rwanda grew by 29.4 percent to hit 25,927 in 2023.