On Tuesday morning, Rwanda received 10 Eastern Black Rhinoceros from South Africa. The development is yet another milestone for the tourism sector, one of the country’s top foreign exchange earners.
The game animals, which are now in Akagera National Park, are a symbol of resilience that Rwandans have showed in rebuilding the country following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, that not only left over a million people dead, but also left Rwanda on its knees as all sectors were left in ruins.
Tourism is one of the biggest success stories in post-Genocide Rwanda. But foreign tourists continue to define this success story. Where are the local tourists? Despite campaigns like ‘Tembera U Rwanda’ that seek to promote local tourism, Rwandans are yet to embrace a culture of being tourists in their own country.
Every Rwandan should make it part of their national calling to be part of the country’s tourism success story through embracing domestic tourism.
Government has invested a lot of resources to revamp the sector, including restocking the national parks. It should not be only foreign visitors who enjoy these magnificent sightings. At the institutional level, such as schools, local tourism should be made mandatory for learners and teachers at least once every term.
If every Rwandan embraces tourism, the untapped full potential of the sector will be fully realised.
The latest biennial Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in April, put Rwanda’s international tourist arrivals at 987,000, and international tourism inbound receipts at US$317.8 million.
Tourism revenue is projected to grow at a rate of 25 per cent until 2018, from $305 million generated in 2014 alone.
If locals fully partake in domestic tourism, the projected tourism growth will be realised faster than expected.