After the Rwanda reopening of its borders mid last month, the country is now observing a growing number of local tourists in the eco-tourism area where the country’s green environment harbors mountain gorillas and scenic hillsides.
Rwanda’s domestic tourism sector is now showing or indicating signs of quick recovery after the re-opening of its tourist sector on June 17, preliminary statistics show.
Official data from the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) shows that major tourist service facilities across this Africa country have started to observe a growth in travel traffic with hopes to see more growth from this month ahead.
Nyungwe National Park, best for canopy walking safaris and trails had attracted 30 local visitors while Akagera National Park had attracted and then hosted 750 visitors since re-opening of tourism.
On opening up the tourism service facilitates, Rwanda government revised then reduced the prices for mountain gorilla-trekking permits as well as introducing special packages for other tourism offers, mainly targeting locals and citizens within the East African region.
Rwanda is also aiming to lower entry and visiting fees as a step ahead to promote domestic tourism.
Local tourism operators in Rwanda are optimistic of the tourism sector after the first weeks of re-opening have shown positive visiting trends in domestic tourism.
Domestic tourism has been counted to maintain value chains ensuring growing local tourism markets that would create many jobs with positive economic growth during an international crisis, pegging on local capacity building among tourist players.
Combinations of international and domestic tourism segments would be the only option for the tourism sector to remain afloat in the short term and medium term prior to the resumption of global markets in what is hoped to be the post COVID-19 period, experts said.
Experts noted that Rwandan people were critical players in supporting the tourism sector and could keep it afloat before resumption to normalcy.
Tourist operators could leverage on conferences for weekdays and leisure for weekends, experts were quoted saying. Readjustment of tour packages to suit local tourists will be another option, experts said.
One of hotel property observed a big growth of activity over a long weekend after the re-opening of tourism, a development that could enable operators to save as many jobs as possible and reopen supply chains working with as many suppliers as possible, reports from Kigali said.
Plans to re-open commercial aviation in August could further improve the sector’s survival chances as the country would open up to regional tourism, reports added.
Demands by tourists to visit Akagera National Park have increased with the ongoing awareness campaigns, professionalism, and availing information which all played a leading role towards improving the confidence of potential visitors.
Akagera National Park management is now working to enhance professionalism among operators and building the confidence of local, regional, and international tourists from the fear of the coronavirus infection.
Tour packages and price adjustments by players including hotels will go a long way to provide incentives on domestic travel, while annual pass packages are part of the innovative ways that will see a return of clientele to parks across the year.
Special packages are available for groups, families, and corporates on other tourist products in Volcanoes and Nyungwe National Parks, and visitors on chartered flights can also travel to Rwanda and visit the popular primates, the mountain gorillas, RDB said.
Establishment of more local tourist products is now under the ongoing plans to create a steady stream of local tourists made up of both Rwandans and East African regional tourists.
Tourism players are optimistic to see Rwanda’s tourism sector recover from the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects and impacts, banking their commitments on the maintenance of professionalism as a clear way to protect their clients and to reduce the chances of further interruption once the pandemic is actually over.