According to figures from RDB, 627 tourists have visited the park since last week’s attack.
Following a deadly to residents of Musanze last Friday night that left fourteen dead, security officials mounted a hunt for the assailants and confirmed that 19 of the attackers were shot dead while 5 were arrested and paraded before the media.
Surviving attackers said they were from rebel groups including FDLR and had come on a mission to take control of the country. They wore military uniforms.
Movements to Volcanoes National Park were not halted and continued to visit the park as security was guaranteed in the area.
On Wednesday morning, RDB CEO, Clare Akamanzi and the Governor of Northern Province, Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi along with representatives of security organs interacted with various tourism industry stakeholders including tour operators, hoteliers and conservation partners operating in and adjacent to the tourists in Kinigi sector, Musanze district ahead of their hike to trek the magnificent mountain gorillas.
They gathered at RDB offices at the foothills of the park where a large number of tourists got briefings before gorilla trekking experience.
59 tourists were going to see the endangered gorillas while 68 more tourists were visiting the park for other activities such as hiking the Virunga Mountains and visiting other primates such as golden monkey.
RDB CEO, Akamanzi affirmed on the region’s safety and commended the security organs for quickly containing last weekend’s attack. “I want to assure you that stability has been restored,” she noted.
Brigadier General Vincent Gatama, Rwanda Defense Forces 2nd Division Commander told the stakeholders that “the attackers didn’t target businesses but other facilities and we stopped them before they got there. Your businesses and properties are protected.”
Keith Vincent, the CEO Wilderness Safari Bisate Lodge said the situation was soon calmed that tourists visited gorillas the next day.
“The Government of Rwanda was open with us after the incident and shared the facts with us quickly which we are very grateful for. Our visitors were safe and went to trek mountain gorillas the next morning,” he stated.
As a result of conservation efforts such as Kwita Izina, the population of the endangered mountain gorilla increased to 604 in 2016 in the Virunga Massif compared to 480 in 2010.
Rwanda has 62% of 880 mountain gorillas present globally.
The Virunga Massif is comprised of the Mikeno Sector of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Mountain gorilla numbers in the entire region had fallen as low as 242 in 1981.
Rwanda needs at least 96 gorilla visitors per day because they are grouped into 12 gorilla families.
The Government of Rwanda allocated 10% of tourism revenues to development projects in communities surrounding parks through Revenue Sharing Scheme.
Over Rwf 5.2 billion has been distributed by RDB to 647 community-based projects since 2005.
Tourism fetched $438 million for Rwanda in 2017, reflecting an increase by $34 million compared to the 2016.
This year, using the park revenues in 2018, RDB distributed Rwf1.4 billion in total to the revenue share program. This was up from Rwf 741 million in 2017.
Figures from RDB indicate that Akagera National Park was the most visited park with 51, 724 visits in 2018, an increase of 17% since 2017. Nyungwe received 15, 665 visitors in 2018, up 9%. Overall park revenues reached over $ 21,153,292 in 2018
In 2018, RDB sold 15,132 gorilla permits worth US$ 19.2 million, a 25% increase compared to 2017. In 2016, before the increase in the permit price, RDB sold 22,219 permits worth US$ 15 million.
Rwanda targets to earn US $800 million tourism revenues in 2024 from US $438 of 2017.
In 2018, Rwanda hosted 1.711 million visitors. Visitor arrivals increased by 8% compared to 2017.