It was hard to sustain his business given that social gatherings were prohibited.
Besides, visits to national parks and other touristic attractions were also suspended.
As the government eased COVID-19 restrictions to resume domestic tourism, Nzabonimpa mulled ways to encourage Rwandans to visit their country’s attractions.
The man owns a company dubbed Beyond the Gorillas Experience Ltd, which focuses on hiking, visits to historical and cultural vestiges among others.
Nzabonimpa had his eyes wide open and realized that Rwanda has a lot of attractions that locals and foreigners need to explore like lakes, hills, parks’ perimeters, cow-based tourism and king’s palace among others.
In collaboration with members of the Private Sector (PSF), Rwanda Development Board (RDB) seeks to promote such attractions beyond the experience of visiting national parks.
Speaking to IGIHE, the Head of Tourism and Conservation Department at RDB, Ariella Kageruka said that the country plans to increase touristic attractions.
“ It is evident and the demand analysis proves it. The latter continues to indicate that people around the world consider new ways of visiting countries where they can spend long time in one country instead of touring different countries for one trip,” she said.
“These are great opportunities for members of the private sector, and other sectors because many of them have a link to tourism, be it agriculture and transport among others,” added Kageruka.
Among the attractions to be given attention, she pointed out hiking, visits to national museums, tourism on Rwandans’ lifestyle among others that can make tourists’ stay a memorable one.
Nzabonimpa has explained that they have explored more attractions since they began exploring other touristic attractions outside national parks and encouraged Rwandans as well as foreigners to take their time to visit such features.
“There are lakes, hills, agritourism, watching how local banana brew is made and cow-based tourism among others. In Rubavu, there is a scenic view of hills along the road to Rusizi and Lake Kivu. In this area, we trek through the hills where we spend ten days from Rubavu to Rusizi. It offers an amazing experience as we camp in different places and experience diverse attractions,” he said.
Rwanda also has plans to promote sports tourism, entertainment events and international conferences among others.
“During COVID-19, Rwanda continued to host international conferences, concerts and sports events. This is an exciting milestone because the country has been expending much effort in infrastructure development. Besides, partners were reinforced to make improvements luring international events organizers to think of Rwanda as their destination,” said Kageruka.
She also hinted at major events the country is set to host including the Basketball Africa League (BAL) tournament to be held in Rwanda for the third time, the Veterans World Cup and UCI Road World Championships in 2025 among others noting that it is a positive development proving how more great things are on the way.
Speedy recovery from COVID-19 effects
On 27th September 2022, Rwanda joined the rest of the world to celebrate the annual World Tourism Day. This time’s celebration focused on rethinking the impact of tourism on sustainable development.
The celebration held on Wednesday 27th September brought together officials from RDB, and partners including MasterCard Foundation, members of the private sector and investors in the tourism sector. The event also coincided with tourism exhibition.
The day was observed at a time when Rwanda continues to make commendable steps towards recovering the tourism sector that had been shaken by COVID-19 over the past two years.
Figures show that revenues from Rwanda’s tourism sector have been increasing steadily following the drop by 70% owing to effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year, Rwanda registered an increase by 25% in tourism revenues reaching US$164 million up from US$131 million of 2020.
In 2019, the country generated US$498 million from tourism.
Kageruka has expressed optimism for Rwanda’s tourism to recover quickly from effects of COVID-19 and hailed Rwandans’ increased interest in exploring touristic attractions.
“As you know, tourism is rebounding, slightly over 80%. This evidences how people continue to promote tourism. RDB has also been introducing programs helping tourists to explore the country’s attractions. For instance, we have reduced gorilla trekking permit from US$1500 to US$200 for Rwandans and East African nationals and US$500 for foreign residents,” she noted.
The Director General of the Rwanda Chamber of Tourism at the Private Sector Federation, Frank Gisha Mugisha said that the country’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 have played a pivotal role for the sector’s speedy recovery and expressed optimism that it will remain a major contributor to national development.