People seeking to visit Kivu Belt region can now easily explore a great number of tourism attractions in five districts that are adjacent to Lake Kivu.
This has been made possible thanks to the launch of a Kivu Belt Destination Management Unit that aims to attract more local, regional and international visitors to the area.
This is part of a joint effort by a coalition of private and public tourism and hospitality actors established by Rwanda Chamber of Tourism in partnership with German Society for International Cooperation (Gesellschaft Internationale Zusammenarbeit: GIZ).
An evening view of Lake Kivu from Rutsiro District, one of the five districts of Western Province that make up Kivu belt. / Régis Umurengezi
Hiking trail or biking along the Kivu Belt road, kayak on Lake Kivu, primates like chimpanzees, and various community-based tourism projects are another range of attractions that can be found along the Kivu Belt region.
Aimable Rutagarama, the Chairman of the Rwanda Chamber of Tourism, said the collaboration is important given that it will bridge the information gap on hospitality and tourism facilities along the Kivu Belt.
"For the past few years, investing in hospitality and tourism facilities has been taken as risky businesses due to the lack of data or limited information on available opportunities and limited tourism products on offer," he noted
Rutagarama added; "The Destination Management Unit is meant to identify and map all available hospitality and tourism products and this will enhance the profitability of the businesses in the Kivu Belt."
Governor Munyetwari leads a team of local tourists on a 3-day Congo Nile Trail familiarisation trip. / Régis Umurengezi
Residents and local officials from Western Province welcomed the move, saying it will boost the country's visibility and improve the livelihood of communities in the area.
"Hiking trail along Kivu Belt destination helps one to explore the beauty of Rwanda by taking a deep relaxation as it is an admirable sport, I am therefore calling on everyone to explore this beautiful region," said Josué Michel Ntaganira, the Vice-mayor for Economic Development in Nyamasheke District.
The Governor of Western Province, Alphonse Munyentwari, together with other local authorities and officials from Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and GIZ last week had a Congo Nile Trail during a 3-day familiarisation trip.
"The Kivu Bet Destination is very rich in terms of tourism diversification. Products like hiking and biking on the Congo Nile Trail make us proud of our destination. Communities have a lot of cultural activities to offer... We want more people to come to this destination and this will be achieved by fostering good collaboration," he said during the hiking trail.
Local tourists inspect wooden bowl (Umuvure) during a three-day Congo Nile Trail familiarisation trip. / Régis Umurengezi
According to officials from the Kivu Belt Destination Management Unit, they aim at increasing the number of visitors who participate in hiking trail or biking along the Kivu Belt and increasing tourism destinations in the area as well as training more tourist guides.
Kivu Belt touches five districts of Western Province, namely; Rubavu, Rutsiro, Karongi, Nyamasheke and Rusizi.