Burundi – wakening from slumber to claim its place in tourism

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As mentioned a few weeks ago, when the appointment of Ms.

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As mentioned a few weeks ago, when the appointment of Ms. Carmen Nibigira to the position of Director General of the Burundi National Tourism Office was announced here as breaking news, Burundi is in the process of turning her attention to the active promotion of tourism and appears finally ready to claim her place among the East African tourism power houses like Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda.

For long one of the best kept secrets has Burundi, which owns a stretch of Lake Tanganyika and shares a major trans-boundary forest system with neighboring Rwanda – on their side of the border with the Nyungwe Forest National Park – began to turn up the heat and offer glimpses into the range of attractions tourists can expect to find when adding Burundi to their East African itinerary.

Sources from the tourism public sector of Kenya and Ugandan expressed their hope that Burundi will soon join the common East African visitor Visa launched for Uganda, Rwanda and Uganda, which makes travel across the region easier and more cost effective while individuals from the tourism private sectors showed some excitement last week at the Hotel Summit East Africa 2014 when raising the prospect of Burundi coming on line and adding a new dimension to the existing safari circuits.

A series of sporting and social events have taken place in Bujumbura and across Burundi in recent months and more are planned for the rest of the year, the difference now being that Burundi’s Tourism Office will spread the news into the region to make a wider participation possible.

Said Carmen recently in Bujumbura: “With these events, we are placing Burundi on a local and regional map. We want to change the brand of Burundi as a fun and wonderful place. We want people to bring their families, friends or colleagues out to Bujumbura as this is where the action will be in the coming weeks and months.

“Our goal is for people to have quality time in Bujumbura while at the same time getting to sample the warmth of our people and the wonderful weather and attractions that we have. We also have a delightful culinary experience with our very own mukeke from the Lake Tanganyika.”

According to Carmen, Bujumbura will in the next few weeks be hosting the annual Bujumbura Fashion Week and will have a week-long music festival that is set to attract some of the top-performing musicians from the region. The event will take place on the sandy beaches of the Lake Tanganyika. The Bujumbura Fashion Week will not only profile the very best of unique fashion trends from Burundi, but will also attract up and coming fashion designers from across the African continent in a celebration of African talent and culture.

Added Carmen by saying: “Aside from these exciting events, Bujumbura will also be hosting Festicab this year. Festicab is an annual film festival. This year’s Festicab will also highlight talents from the East African region. Already, Bujumbura is now hosting themed Jazz Nights once every month. So, the message from the business and tourism community from Burundi is crystal clear – Don’t go anywhere else, Burundi is the country to be and Buja is THE weekend city for East Africans, Africans and all citizens of the world keen on having a good time. Be it a social event, corporate event, family event, Bujumbura is the place to be. We welcome you all to this our city and country. Our Beautiful Burundi.”

With this newfound focus is Burundi tapping into a niche in East Africa and with daily connections by Kenya Airways and RwandAir, and Air Uganda and Air Tanzania now also flying to Burundi’s capital city, there is no shortage of flights any longer to hop across to Burundi and sample the new menu the tourism gurus in Bujumbura have been busy cooking up in recent months. For more information about the destination and its attractions visit

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.