One month on from the launch of Rwanda’s latest domestic tourism campaign ‘Tembera U Rwanda-Jump on the Bus’, the country’s tourist attractions seem to be becoming more popular than ever with Rwandan tourists.
Latest data from the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) indicates that over 120 Rwandans have registered for the state-run development board’s next trip to the Nyungwe National Park, which takes place on November 4-5.
Umar Abineza, the domestic tourism marketing officer at RDB, says the campaign, which is supposed to run until the end of the year, is a great success so far.
In his own words: “The fact that we have already closed registration for the next trip but more people are still showing interest in taking part means that the campaign is successful.”
To register for one of the trips, all one has to do is send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org expressing interest. During the campaign, RDB is providing free transportation and entrance to national parks, but travellers will have pay for other services such as accommodation and meals. However, according to Mr Umar, hotels are offering discounted prices to local travellers during the campaign.
Even though Rwanda’s unique culture, geography, wild game, and unparalleled scenery make it a spectacular tourist destination, earlier RDB data indicated that Rwandans were yet to fully embrace the idea of being tourists in their own country.
In the first half of 2016, locals accounted for 61 per cent of the total number of visitors to the Akagera National Park, 37 per cent of visitors to the Nyungwe National Park were locals, while the Volcanoes National Park recorded a paltry 14 per cent.
Speaking during a media briefing on September 29 in Kigali, Belise Kariza, the chief tourism officer at RDB, said that the campaign is part of the country’s World Tourism Day celebrations.
“This year’s World Tourism Day theme, ‘Tourism for all’, is a call for all of us to change our traditional way of thinking that tourism is for the rich, for international travellers, but rather everyone can be a tourist in his local environment and discover his country’s rich biodiversity, history and unique culture,” Ms Kariza said.
An economic driver in the country, tourism contributes more than$300 million to the economy each year with a good number of Rwandans employed in the industry.
RDB has every confidence that domestic travel will step up to grow by at least five per cent each year. But with the domestic travel market currently contributing around 20 per cent of the total tourism revenues, RDB has intervened with a Rwf150 million push to encourage Rwandans to take more holidays at home.