Rwanda’s Tourism Revenue Rises On Increased Regional Visitors

Rwanda’s Tourism Revenue Rises On Increased Regional Visitors

From Bloomberg News.

Rwanda, popular among tourists for gorilla tracking and bird watching, saw earnings from tourism rise slightly in the first quarter.

An increase in the number of visitors from the region offset fewer overseas arrivals, according to a story in Bloomberg News.

This coffee-growing nation of close to 11 million is recovering from genocide in 1994 that killed 800,000 people.

Rwanda earned $71.5 million from January to March, up from the $70.5 million for the same period in 2012, said Rica Rwigamba, head of tourism and conservation for the Rwanda Development Board, in an interview in Kigali, the capital.

A decline in tourists from crisis-hit Europe in the first quarter was counterbalanced by an increase in travelers from within the region, Rwigamba said.

Fear in anticipation of Kenya’s March 4 elections could have affected tourism revenue in the region, Rwigamba said in the report. Kenya’s national elections passed peacefully. Violence over the disputed outcome of the previous presidential vote in 2007 left more than 1,100 dead in Kenya.

Rwanda hopes to grow tourism income to $440 million in 2014. Revenue is projected to be  $317 million this year and was $282 million last year, according to the report.

“To attain the target, infrastructure has to be put in place to accommodate the tourists and it has to be well spread across the country, not concentrating in Kigali only,” Rwigamba said.

Rwanda is setting-up tourism offices in traditional markets including the U.K., U.S. and Germany, increasing marketing in China and Russia and opening a new convention center in 2014. It is also working with other East African governments to advertise the region as a vacation destination.

Rwanda’s economic growth is expected to increase by 7.2 percent in 2013, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Read more at Bloomberg News.