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Rwanda’s Kagame urges conducive environment for Africa tourism to thrive

President Paul Kagame called on African economies to provide a favorable environment that would boost the growth of tourism on the continent.

President Kagame was speaking at the official opening of the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference that kicked off in Rwanda’s capital city Kigali with a focus on promoting tourism as an engine for economic growth and job creation across Africa.

"Harnessing the full potential of tourism industry in Africa will require continued focus and investment on several fronts that fuel the engine of conservation and tourism growth. Strengthening good governance enables us to manage the environment that supports tourist attractions and generation of revenues," said Kagame.

Rwanda, is keen to convert the favorable demographics into economic growth and prosperity, said the president.

"We want to strengthen collaboration within our region and across the continent in order to advance tourism in Africa. The single tourist visa and passport-free travel with Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda is already a reality. We need more cooperation on the continent to increase the numbers of visitors and facilitate trade and investment within Africa," he said.

And Rwanda is doing particularly well at the moment. Only in Rwanda and Uganda is it possible to meet such gorillas in person - so there is a big charge - $1500 for each permit - without a guaranteed engagement. This charge, and the sort of tourist this unique and life-changing event attracts, enables a good base for the industry.

Wilderness Safaris (who won the Virtuoso sustainable tourism award recently) have recently opened a top-end lodge in Rwanda, Bisate Eco Lodge.

Here, guests are almost embedded in the local community. "When you wake in the morning you might hear a goat or a cow, and you will see Rwandan rural life all around you. The lodge has been built on land bought from farmers and Wilderness is busy restoring it, planting indigenous trees, with the ultimate aim of creating a forest to surround the lodge. Already almost 16,000 have been planted and, in Rwanda’s lush soil and benign climate, are growing fast.

Moreover Rwanda is very, very keen on sustainability even to the extent of banning all plastic bags!

It may well be that Rwanda is the sustainable destination of the future.


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