By Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome, ETN Africa Correspondent
Figures released by the Rwanda Development Board’s Tourism and Conservation Department confirm the continued trend of sectoral growth in tourism, as arrival numbers in 2013 rose by 6 percent to 1,137,000 visitors while earnings in the sector rose by 4 percent to now US$293.6 million.
This makes tourism once again the leading economic sector ahead of agriculture, namely tea and coffee, with indications that 2014 will also show a growth again.
Rwanda is presently participating in the world’s largest tourism fair, ITB in Berlin, Germany, where the country shares a stand with neighbors Uganda and Kenya. As one of the key aspects of this year’s promotion came the launch yesterday evening of the long awaited common tourist visa for Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya.
Lower than usual sales forecasts though for gorilla permits have brought to the forefront some concerns if, like in neighboring Uganda Rwanda too should introduce a low season rate, which in Uganda now stands at US$350 for foreign nonresident visitors to the prized gorillas while in comparison, Uganda now charges US$600 during the high season for a gorilla permit while Rwanda charges US$750 year round.