The tourism industry amassed US$56 million (Rwf33 billion) in revenues in the first quarter of 2011, from US$43 million during the same period last year, indicating a successful start for the sector.
During the same period, 201,088 visitors, visited the country representing a 32 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
The CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), John Gara, attributed the increase to the diversification of tourism, after the introduction of new products, particularly the 150 meters high canopy walkway in Nyungwe, which is projected to attract at least 13,000 visitors this year.
“Due to the canopy walk, Nyungwe National Park activities almost doubled with an 89 percent increase in the first quarter of 2011,” Gara said, Thursday, during a press conference.
He added that in order to reduce human-wildlife conflicts in national parks, the Parliament and Senate voted in the compensation law to fence Akagera Park and contain wildlife within park boundaries and also compensate evicted families.
“There was a 35 percent increase in park activities registered in the three national parks,” Gara said, adding that, “park activities in Akagera and Volcanoes parks increased by 20 percent and 39 percent respectively.”
He also expressed optimism over the forthcoming Kwita Izina function scheduled for 18th June, which is a gorilla naming public event expected to massively boost the tourism sector, as well as attract several international celebrities.
“Kwita Izina will be held under the theme “Community development for sustained conservation” and will see 22 baby gorillas given names in a colourful event at Musanze; this is one of the major events in the tourism calendar, which we are all optimistic about,” Gara added.
Early this year, RDB reported that three birding routes would be launched outside the national parks this year, as part of the country’s long term tourism master plan.