Half-year results showed a 56 percent growth in tourism compared with the same period of last year, with gorilla tracking alone experiencing a 70 percent increase, Clare Akamanzi, chief executive officer of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), said on Wednesday at the Business of Conservation Conference held in the Rwandan capital of Kigali.
The two-day conference focusing on “Building Resilient and Sustainable Wildlife Economies” was organized ahead of the annual gorilla naming ceremony, locally known as Kwita Izina, scheduled for Friday in the country’s northern district of Musanze.
“Nature-based eco-tourism is the main reason that Rwanda’s tourism sector has thrived, and this year we expect to be back to the pre-pandemic level,” she said.
Rwanda’s tourism revenues amounted to 498 million U.S. dollars in 2019 before it was badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it plunged to 121 million dollars in 2020, according to official data.
In 2022, tourism brought the East African country 445 million dollars, which was still below the pre-pandemic level, according to data from the RDB.
Akamanzi attributed the tourism growth to conservation efforts, including effective management of national parks and preserving natural landscapes.
Nature-based tourism holds tremendous potential for creating jobs that would spur economic growth in Rwanda, according to officials.
But it requires innovative actions to mobilize more resources beyond the government budget, and enhance private sector participation to protect natural assets and develop appropriate infrastructure, the World Bank said earlier this year in an economic report on Rwanda.