Rwanda‘s national parks are experiencing more visits from both local and international tourists, thus boosting the country’s tourism revenues.
According to a new report which KT Press has seen, last year, Rwanda generated up to $16.8 million from more than 67,696 visits to the national parks. Out of these, only 16, 000 were local visitors which generated $400,000.
Rwanda Development Board (RDB) says that revenues from parks increased by 19% from $14.1 million recorded in 2013.
According to the department of tourism and national parks in RDB, last year’s increase in revenues resulted from improved tourism marketing on the global scene.
Rwanda was recently named a ‘must see destination’ by CNN’s Fodor’s travel.
With a target of increasing the number of tourists into Rwanda, since 2013, nationals of all African countries traveling to or transiting through Rwanda are issued entry visa upon arrival at any Rwandan entry point.
Rwanda, an East African nation with an area of 26,338 square kilometers (10,169 square miles), has three national parks; Akagera in the East, Nyungwe in the South and Volcanoes in the North, home to world’s rare mountain gorillas.
RDB says, visits to the Volcanoes National Park increased by 11% while Akagera National Park increased by 4%.
Nyungwe National Park, home to the only canopy walkway in East Africa, recorded an increase of 30% of visitors.
RDB says Volcanoes Park remains a touristic hotspot and a mega revenue generator, having taken 93% of all revenues generated from the parks.
Foreigners visiting gorillas pay $750. While a foreign resident pays $350, Locals pay Rwf30, 000 ($42).
In Nyungwe and Akagera National Parks, prices for locals range from Rwf5000 ($7) on wards, depending on variety of services offered within the park, while charges on foreigners range from $50 or more.
Local tour guide companies say Rwanda has registered growth in terms of tourists, thanks to improvement in service delivery in different sectors.
Greg Bakunzi, founder of Amahoro Tours and Red Rocks Rwanda, a tour guide company, told KT Press that, “Apart from Rwanda‘s USP (mountain gorillas), we were able to diversify our products that are not only safaris but others related to eco-tourism including cultural tours.”
RDB has a target of generating $860m from tourism in 2016, up from current $304 million.