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Tourism Still Country’s Leading Foreign Exchange Earner




Arnold Kwizera


The tourism sector continued to be Rwanda’s number one foreign exchange earner in the year 2013 according to September’s statistics of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

The sector saw an increase in the number of tourists by 14% last year as more than 544,000 visitors entered the country compared to 487,000 during the same period in 2012.

Business visitors continued to represent the majority, with 227,574 visitors compared to 198,589 by September 2012. This was as a result of the country’s high ranking in the Doing Businesses report for 2013 that ranked Rwanda as the second easiest place to do business in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Based on last year’s success, there is optimism that the country’s tourism revenues would have exceeded $440 million by the year’s end, compared to $282 million in 2012. Tourism was also expected to contribute more than $340 million in foreign direct investment by the end of last year, a 10% increase from $317 million in 2012.

Rwanda’s main tourist attraction has continued to be the mountain gorillas found in the Virunga range it shares with Uganda and the DR Congo, but profits the most from these rare animals (there are approximately not more than 800 gorillas) due to well planned events such as the baby gorilla naming ceremony Kwita Izina, which took place for the ninth time. This year’s ceremony saw the naming of 12 baby gorillas and has been nominated for the prestigious United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) award for innovation in public policy.

The event that was held under the theme ‘celebrating nature and empowering communities,’ has over the years attracted renowned celebrities and conservationists such as actors Ramsey Noah and Isaiah Washington.

Ever since the inception of Kwita Izina, the gorilla population in Rwanda has risen by 26%.

2013 saw the birth of 17 babies compared to 12 the previous.

“The country’s great security and scenery have contributed to the improved ranking this year.”


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