By Gilbert Mwijuke
The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has officially launched a campaign to encourage Rwandans to “immerse” themselves “in the beauty of our country.”
Speaking during a media briefing on September 29 in Kigali, Belise Kariza, the chief tourism officer at RDB, said that the launch of the campaign, which has been christened Tembera U Rwanda-Jump on the Bus, is part of the country’s World Tourism Day celebrations. World Tourism Day is celebrated every year on September 27.
“This year’s World Tourism Day theme, ‘Tourism for all’, is a call for all of us to change our traditional way of thinking that tourism is for the rich, for international travellers, but rather everyone can be a tourist in his local environment and discover his country’s rich biodiversity, history and unique culture,” Ms Kariza said.
After the press launch, RDB’s tourism and conservation staff, local media and tourism stakeholders, will on September 30 and October 1 ride across the “Heritage Corridor” from Kigali to Huye district, passing through iconic cultural sites in Kamonyi, Muhanga, Ruhango and Nyanza, which symbolises how one can enjoy Rwanda’s breathtaking sceneries, unique culture and history.
“For every stopover, we’ll have a chance to meet a local storyteller who will give a brief on the historical and cultural aspects of that specific site,” Ms Kariza told journalists.
The new campaign, which will be running for three months, features holiday packages that are fun, accessible and affordable.
“We are providing transport and access to key tourism destinations and we invite Rwandans to bear witness to the remarkable experience in Rwanda well-known by the international market,” RDB’s Kariza said, adding that during the campaign Rwandans will only have to pay for accommodation.
RDB data indicates that domestic tourist numbers are still very low, even though 61 per cent of tourists to the Akagera National Park are locals. In the first half of 2016, locals accounted for 37 per cent of the total number of visitors to Nyungwe National Park while the Volcanoes National Park recorded 14 per cent.
The new campaign is therefore aimed at reminding Rwandans that their beautiful country is not just a playground for international tourists but, first and foremost, theirs to enjoy.