The World Tourism Day is marked on 27th September every year. In light of this, MasterCard held week-long activities to celebrate achievements realized in the sector.
These activities include interactions with the youth, beneficiaries of ‘Hanga Ahazaza’ program.
MasterCard also joined I&M Bank to commend clients in the tourism sector for efficiently utilizing received loans and held the graduation ceremony for 500 beneficiaries of Education First (EF).
Other activities include a walk at Nyandungu Eco-Park that brought together employees from MasterCard and partners.
They toured the eco-tourism park on 1st October 2022 and explored attractive features in the area.
The Country Head of MasterCard Foundation mu Rwanda, Rica Rwigamba commended Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) for having established the recreational facility in the City of Kigali.
“We thank REMA for such a great milestone. This is a quiet and green place helping people to visit nature without moving out of Kigali. We really appreciate the project,” she said.
Rwigamba revealed that they are set to intensify efforts in promoting tourism and offering training to beneficiaries out of Kigali. She also encouraged actors in the sector to adopt technology.
“The takeaway from this week, especially from the youth’s perspectives, is that tourism goes beyond parks and gorillas among others. It presents a lot of opportunities for different people including models and sports enthusiasts. There are also tourists interested in walks to stretch legs,” added Rwigamba.
The Director General of the Rwanda Chamber of Tourism at the Private Sector Federation, Frank Gisha Mugisha hailed MasterCard Foundation for organizing the walk and encouraged more actors in the tourism sector to market the park.
The Nyandungu Eco-Park is the first public recreational and touristic facility of its kind in Kigali.
The park provides a space for residents and visitors to the city to explore and learn from nature, and is part of Rwanda’s efforts to harness eco-tourism to restore biodiversity and conserve urban wetland ecosystems.
The restoration of the wetland and creation of an eco-tourism park was funded by the Rwanda Green Fund (FONERWA) with support from the UK Government, the Italian Government through the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the UN Environment Programme.
The six-year initiative has restored the Nyandungu wetland ecosystem and promoted the sustainable management of natural resources.
The rapid growth of Kigali and the associated human activities have put significant pressure on the wetlands. Wetlands, including Nyandungu, have been degraded and this led to biodiversity loss. Encroachment has also resulted in downstream flooding as well as increased pollution due sewage outflows.
In 2016, the Government of Rwanda through REMA developed the Nyandungu restoration project to respond to these challenges and demonstrate the potential of wetlands to abate pollution and reduce the risk of flooding in urban areas.
Since then, the Rwf4.5 billion project has restored critical habitats, including a native fig forest and the wetland itself, and rehabilitated streams and ponds to alleviate floods and reed-beds to reduce pollution.
Stretched on 121.7 hectares in size, including 70 hectares of wetland and 50 hectares of forest; the wetland also features a medicinal garden, a Pope’s Garden, five catchment ponds, three recreation ponds, a 10km network of walking and cycling paths, viewing areas, picnic areas, an information centre, and a restaurant among other facilities.
It is home to more than 62 local plant species and over 100 bird species.