Since the 1994 Rwandan Genocide against the Titsi the government began modifying the nation, and tourism was considered as a major pillar that the nation would use to fetch a lot of foreign exchange required, additionally change the image of misery that the international community had of the nation.
First the Rwandan government under the leadership of President Paul Kagame worked hard to restore peace and security in the country, welcomed back all the nationals who had gone off as refugees in the neighboring countries. The government also did a great job to secure the Volcanoes National Park in Musanze district, Northern Province, the home of the rare and endangered mountain gorillas which is the main tourist attraction in the country.
After the genocide, Rwanda as a tourist destination was difficult to market because the tourists saw the country as a dangerous one to travel to. The genocide period gave Rwanda a very bad image to the outside world.
Right now things in Rwanda have totally changed and the country is now well established as a tourist destination and thousands of tourists from different parts of the world are flowing in to see the mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, Amazing wildlife in Akagera national Park, Chimpanzees in Nyungwe Forest national Park and the historical attractions in the country.
As of late, the country’s tourism industry has achieved a huge development within just the previous 15 years, developing from a sector earning $62 million a year sector in 2000 to $303 million a year in 2014 — a blast that has been driven by the nation's political, economic and social recovery. Tourism is currently Rwanda’s highest foreign exchange earner after tea and coffee.
This achievement is exceedingly associated with security, good infrastructure and sanitation. Generally insecurity and poor transport infrastructure scares off visitors.
Reflecting back at Kenya a generally fruitful and lucrative tourism destination, has suffered the impacts of instability at its Coastal circuit, which has almost killed off the tourism sector in the country.
As per the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), 1.17 million sightseers visited Rwanda a year ago, mainly attracted by the prospect of seeing mountain gorillas, particularly the silverbacks — a rare and endangered species found in the Volcanoes National Park.
Most of the tourists visiting Rwanda come from the United States, Britain, India, Belgium and Germany. American visitors contribute 20% of Rwanda's total tourism revenues, as indicated by Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
Restoration efforts and standards in Rwanda
To restore the tourism industry after several years of stagnation, the government set out on a aggressive marketing effort geared towards showcasing mountain gorillas of the volcanoes National Park which is part of the Virunga Volcanic mountains chains that straddle Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In the Volcanoes national park, from numerous tourists who have had the opportunity to see eye to eye with the mountain gorillas, gorilla trekking is viewed as a unique product and is sold to tourists at a premium of $750 per gorilla permit per person (Uganda charges $600). Then again, Rwanda's pride is in the ability for one to ably do a 1 day gorilla trek and fly back home, which is impossible for Uganda because in Uganda the tourist have to travel a 9 hours drive from Entebbe International Airport to Bwindi Forest the home of mountain gorillas and in Rwanda it is only a 2 hours drive from Kigali International Airport to Volcanoes National Park the Home of mountain gorillas.
In 2005, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) introduced the Kwita Izina celebration as a highlight of the tourism year. This is a yearly baby gorilla naming and conservation ceremony aiming making people aware of effort to conserve the critically endangered species. This event has inculcated community ownership of the mountain gorilla tourism.
Since the introduction of Kwita Izina 10 years back, RDB says the nation's mountain gorilla population has increased from 370 in 2005 to around 514 in 2015 and is the Rwanda's greatest tourist attraction. Rwanda earns $10 million yearly from gorilla tourism alone, RDB says.