The New Times (Kigali)

7 January 2013

Rwanda: Heritage Tourism Can Enhance Growth of the Tourism Industry

editorial

Photo: Rwanda Tourism
Gorilla.

A critical examination of the tourism sector shows that 2012 was an impressive year.

With the sector generating $232 million by October 2012, compared to $204 million in 2011, it was the biggest foreign exchange earner.

The reason for the continued growth of tourism is the country's security and stability that attracts visitors keen to see and enjoy the country's various attractions.

President Paul Kagame, in his State of the Nation Address recently noted that it is critical that we strive to provide excellent service and customer care so that visitors to Rwanda leave as good ambassadors who will return and also encourage others to visit.

That aside, ensuring long term development of the tourism sector should be the country's priority. This can be achieved through creating more tourism avenues to minimise pressure on Mountain gorillas and the national parks which are Rwanda's traditional tourism attractions.

For example, Rwanda should promote heritage tourism. There should be a deliberate effort to encourage people to come and experience the unique places and activities that represent the stories of Rwandan tradition.

Heritage tourism is said to be the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry as the trend tilts towards an increase in specialisation among tourists.

There are many tourists who seek adventure, culture, history, archaeology and interaction with local people.

Rwanda is gifted with a rich historical, natural and cultural heritage which if properly harnessed, can potentially improve the socio-economic situation of Rwandans and provide employment through heritage tourism.

Apart from the national museum in Huye, there are other equally important museums and heritage sites in the country as well as intangible heritage like our traditional music which can help boost tourism in Rwanda.

It therefore requires the documentation of these sites and incorporation of the information into tourism itineraries or guides.

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