Rwanda Tourism Sector Profile

Rwanda Tourism Sector Profile

Land of a thousand hills
Rwanda has been called the Land of a Thousand Hills because much of the country is covered by rolling, grassy hills with volcanic mountains in the North Western part of the nation. Rwanda is becoming increasingly noticed for its environmental policies and breathtaking beauty. Positive internal and international support for infrastructure, education, security and eco-tourism has made it an attractive African destination.

Performance of the sector
Tourism sector is among the fastest growing sectors in the country. That is, in 2012 tourism sector generated US$ 281.8 million and it attracted investments totalling over US$323 million. The sector attracted over 1.07 million visitors representing an increase of 22 per cent compared to same period in 2011. Tourism sector is a top foreign exchange earner for the country.

Characteristics of the sector

  • Tourism sector is one of the largest sources of export earnings for Rwanda.
  • Rwanda boasts of tourist attractions including Mountain gorillas, national parks, museums, Lakes, culture and wonderful scenery.
  • Tourism receipts are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10% until 2013.
  • The average spend by a visitor is $200 a day and average length of stay is one week.
  • From January to June 2012, the tourism industry registered projects worth US$ 184.1million. These projects are expected to create 1,328 jobs.

Current situation in the sector
Rwanda’s tourism sector continues to be the largest foreign exchange earner in the country. The continuous growth in tourism is mainly attributed to the country’s security, stability and infrastructure investment over the last 10 years which has attracted visitors. Tourism generated US $281.8 million (Rwf178b) in 2012 compared to US $251.3m (Rwf159b) 2011. This corresponds to an increase of 17%, according to 2012 report from Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

Competitive advantage of the sector

  • Unique assets: It offers tourists a one of a kind journey home to one third of the world’s remaining Mountain Gorillas, one third of Africa’s bird species, several species of primates, volcanoes, game reserves, resorts and islands on Lake Kivu, graceful dancers, artistic crafts and friendly people.
  • Safe and easy to get around with short distances to diverse destinations
  • Located in the heart of central and East Africa with easy access to bordering countries of Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya.
  • There are 380 hotels and 6500 hotel rooms in Rwanda. For the upper range, average occupancy rate is 70%, with foreigners accounting for 97% of bed nights sold

Accommodation in Rwanda
Accommodation in Rwanda ranges from the more luxurious hotel suites in the city to the more Rustic Mountain and safari lodges found in and around Rwanda’s National Parks. There is also mid-range hotels aimed as much at local business people as they are at tourists.

Backpackers’ lodges and campsites are also available and all standards of accommodation in Rwanda are generally good value for money

People and Culture
Rwanda’s people have a rich culture which includes ancient folk music and dances and this usually attracts visitors to the country.

Tourist arrivals in Rwanda
The International tourism number of arrivals in Rwanda was 666,000 in 2010 and currently it is projected to have increased to 980,000  in 2012.

Transport in Rwanda
Rwanda has various means of transport which includes air transport that mainly caters for  visitors that use Kigali International Airport and road transport connecting to various towns in the country. There is limited water transport on  Lake Kivu.

Investment opportunities in the tourism sector

  • The regional conference business is booming but Kigali lacks sufficient conference space, the Kigali Conference Centre is at the technical design phase and looking for investors
  • There is room for more 3 star, 4star and 5star hotels both in Kigali and in regional towns of Butare, Gisenyi, Muhazi, Nyanza and Akagera
  • Premium eco-tourism operators are required to widen activity base
  • Construction of a Cultural Village in Kigali.
  • Development of boating and water sports on lakes Kivu, Ihema and Muhazi
  • Development at the  hot springs in the Western province.
  • Tourism and Hospitality training schools
  • Develop meetings, conferences and conventions infrastructure and facilities (MICE Tourism).
  • Develop exhibition centres within Kigali and major towns