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Challenges facing Rwanda’s tourism growth

Rwanda has one of the fast growing tourism sectors in Africa today, with the industry earning over $305 million since 2015 which contributes the highest amount of foreign exchange for the country’s government. Rwanda’s Development Board (RDB), the country’s government body in charge of tourism, continue to increase the the country’s tourism potential by putting more initiatives to diversify attraction that the country offers visitors so as to keep them longer touring Rwanda.

In her journey of developing the country’s tourism the RDB has not seen only positives but also a number of challenges which have been put forward in an interview with Dr Michael Masozera, Rwanda’s program director of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which have been discussed below.

The biggest challenge highlighted is population growth and density versus Land availability. Rwanda is the smallest East African country with a growing population yet land is limited. Currently, Rwanda’s population density is going close to 300 people per square kilometres. With a growing population, threat faces the conservation land reserved for national parks and other eco systems. A big population requires land for settlement, agriculture, water.Much of the rural livelihoods are based on an agricultural production system that is characterized by small family farms of less than 1 hectare (ha), practicing mixed farming that combines rainfed grain crops, traditional livestock-rearing and some vegetable production

Globalisation is another factor to consider – This is an important factor which comes as the country tries to expand her economy through increasing her interconnection coming from desire to increase the production of goods and services. This is a good ambition for every developing nation to try to gain economical dependance. However for example is the big chunk of of lands that were originally belonging to Volcanoes conservation area and Nyungwe which were withdrawn for tea and pyrethrum large scale plantation growing. This is land which would have gone for more conservation or settlement of people or perhaps set as land for large scale food crop cultivation for the country’s population.

Lack of Alternatives to keep tourists Longer in the country
Past records have shown that a large number of Rwanda’s tourists stay in the country for at least 1 – 3 days and depart. Rwanda is largely known for its rare mountain gorilla trekking in the Virunga volcanoes national park. The Volcanoes national park stands a better favor to receiving tourists as compared to other Virunga conservation national parks of Virunga national park in the Congo and Mgahinga national park of Uganda.

Rwanda lacks diversity of attractions and stands out for her mountain gorillas. The longer a tourist stays in the country, the more money he spends for the different activities and services hence benefiting the tourism industry.

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