Kigali — Rwanda's tourism sector has managed to collect over $49million from conference tourism with hope to triple this by the year 2016.
"Rwanda is becoming an attraction for conference tourism. Recently the country held the African Development Bank meeting, which is contributing to more revenue from the sector," Head of Tourism and Conservation Ambassador Yamina Karitanyi said last week during a press briefing aimed at announcing the 10th Kwita Izina ceremony at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
Rwanda will be naming 18 baby gorillas in the forthcoming gorilla naming ceremony due on the July, 1st 2014 which will be the 10th naming ceremony and will go under the theme, "A decade of Conserving, Empowering - Growing.
Karitanyi said Rwanda has continued to promote MICE (Meeting, Incentive, Conference and Events) and now the country owns more facilities and can participate in such tourism. This is aimed at marketing the country for not only conference tourism but other events.
Tourism is the first foreign earning sector to Rwanda and development of the MICE sub-sector will therefore help the sector perform even better.
Before the Kwita Izina ceremony different other activities will take place making way to the celebrations of the birth of the most endangered species worldwide.
"During the ceremony, we will recognize the efforts of individuals, organizations, and nations that have contributed to preservation of these rare animals," Karitanyi said.
She said Rwanda community led conservation efforts have led to a 26.3% growth in the population of gorillas since 2003 and Kwita Izina has been key to this success plus the government of Rwanda which has ensured tourism flourishes in a secure and safe environment.
Rwanda's tourism sector has continued to grow tremendously with over 1,137,000 visitors to the country in 2013 generating over $294million up from the $62million collected in 2000 which is attributed to Rwanda's attractiveness as a travel destination especially in West Africa spearheaded by the RwandAir the national carrier, an increase in unique experience for the tourists plus the country's stability and welcoming visa policies. The tourism sector has a revenue sharing scheme were it takes back to the community hence help such communities especially near the National parks develop and here a 5% is allocated to that.
During the Kwita Izina ceremonies, the different activities done with provision of such funds will be looked at to see how they have helped communities develop.
Other different activities to be carried out before the naming ceremony will be the opening up of Basumba Primary schools found in Bigogwe, Nyabihu district which school has six classrooms and constructed with funds from the revenue sharing scheme
The opening will take place on June, 26 2014 and the school will have 380 student gain access to education.
Kwita Izina is done annually and as a unique event worldwide, it scooped second prize in the UNWTO Ulysses Awards for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance.
The event has continued to attract international participant and only this year will bring in over 300 participants.
Karitanyi said the challenges that the tourism sector faces most especially the climate changes government has developed different strategies that are aimed at addressing such issues.Rwanda has over 295 gorillas and so far over 161 have been named since the event was introduced in the country.
Tourism is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 25% until 2017 as per the EDPRS2 targets.