Sunday, April 18, 2010

10 year Rwanda Tourism Plan Approved

The Sustainable Tourism Development Master Plan for Rwanda approved by a cabinet meeting recently, assesses the current tourism industry and proposes the industry's strategic growth direction in the next decade.

The 182-page document developed in collaboration with the government of Rwanda, the private sector and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) identifies Kigali, the capital of Rwanda as the main tourism hub and other six Destination Management Areas (DMAs) across the country.

The DMAs include Volcanoes Area (north), Akagera Area (east) Muhazi Area (east), Kibuye Area (west), Nyungwe Area (west) and Gisenyi in the western part of Rwanda.

"DMAs are designed to revitalise economies of tourism areas, contribute to the protection and development of conservation and heritage sites where market development pressures are being felt, and where a balance between sustaining the local economy and protecting the environment needs to be reached,"

The master plan identifies hurdles to the development of the Rwandan tourism industry and proposes solutions to them. Some of the hurdles include lack of facilities and services, product gaps, insufficient marketing, in adequate marketing of the sector and skills deficiencies.

The plan notes some hurdles like limited flights to Rwanda, Rwanda's invisibility in the international market place, and limited product offer are fundamental.

"Rwanda offers the international tourism market a very limited product offer in terms of variety, quantity and quality. Rwanda's current product offer is effectively limited to the Gorilla," reads the plan.

"Compounding this, the country's nature resources are in a 'raw state' - lacking supporting infrastructure for the most part, inadequately packaged, and where available very basic."

It proposes that Community Based Tourism, Conferences and Meetings and cultural tourism are among Rwanda's potential attractions that need attention.

The plan earmarks products like birding, water tourism and the national parks as outstanding for the country's tourism industry. The plan notes that Rwanda lacks tourist legislation to regulate the industry and protect the tourists. It also says that implementation of the planning legislation is weak and this can undermine investment and the future of the country's cultural heritage.

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