13 March 2013

Rwanda: Tourism Also Needs Home-Grown Solutions

Photo: Tom Bradley/RNW
Mountain Gorillas in the Greater Virunga region comprising of DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.


Every other day, the public is informed of a hitherto little known aspects of their historical goldmine. Many landmarks associated with ancient Rwanda and ancient customs were deliberately kept out of the public domain for political or religious reasons for years, resulting in an ignorant generation.

Yet the country's current successes have largely been pegged on ancient customs that were adapted to current situations, and they are many. From the traditional Gacaca courts that dealt with nearly two million cases associated with the Genocide against the Tutsi, community work (Umuganda), performance driven initiatives (Imihigo) and a host of other traditional tools, have all played a major role in reshaping this country.

Culture is an integral part of this society, it only needs to be repackaged to conform with particular needs to solve complex issues without reinventing the wheel.

For a country that is trying to rebrand its touristic wealth, the current government's efforts to put historical features back on the map could not have come at a better time.

Many tour companies have also embraced culture as a vehicle to attract more tourists. The tour circuit would not be complete without a visit to one of the many basket weaving centres to learn the ancient craft, or take the tourists through a few dance steps of our complicated dance routines.

But tourism will not grow if the local population takes a back seat and leave the sightseeing to foreigners. Few know that the farthest source of the Nile is nestled somewhere in the Southern Province; even fewer have visited the mountain gorillas despite enjoying preferential tariffs.

It is time RDB -Tourism took a keen interest in this dormant market that does not know its backyard is full of historical and cultural treasures.

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