The New Times (Kigali)

19 January 2013

Rwanda: Local Tourism Needs More Exposure

editorial

The saying, "Charity begins at home", can fittingly be used to promote local tourism. Most Rwandans take their rich heritage and natural endowments for granted, they pass by them and hardly take a second look.

Very few Rwandans, you can bet, have never visited the famed mountain gorillas, or taken a hike in Nyungwe forest along the canopy walk. It seems that is the reserve of foreign tourists.

Even fewer visit our museums or even know their existence apart from the famed one in Huye, Southern Province.

The main reason local tourism has failed to take off, or is still very weak, is lack of awareness. The population has been conditioned to believe that it is very expensive and out of reach. Nothing could be far from the truth.

The rates for Rwandans and local residents are just a fraction of that reserved for foreign tourists, but who knows? Even though the tourism division in Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has in the past announced plans to attract more local tourists, it seems to be more preoccupied in attracting foreign visitors.

There should be more aggressive campaigns and not the one-off radio programmes to make people more aware of their rich heritage because many do not know they are sitting on a gold mine of history and knowledge.

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