Rwanda Re-opens its Tourism for Domestic & International Tourists
The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) on Wednesday, June 17th 2020 announced the reopening of tourism activities and attractions, with a sharp cut in the price of permits for tracking endangered mountain gorillas.
RDB said in a statement that reopening of Rwanda tour activities and recommencement of international travel for charter flights are effective from June 17, 2020. However, they are exempting international tourists travelling with charter flights from anti-coronavirus measures that prohibit travellers from entry to Rwanda and suspend commercial flights.
RDB’s Chief Tourism Officer Belise Kariza said in the statement that “Rwanda’s tourism industry is adapting to create a safe environment for travellers and operators, in order to thrive in these unprecedented times.” The well-being of all Rwanda safari travellers is our top priority and we have therefore put vigorous health and safety guidelines in place.
Together with the private sector, RDB is offering attractive all-inclusive tourism packages for Rwandans and foreign residents interested in Rwanda tours. These Rwanda safari tour packages have been designed to showcase Rwanda’s remarkable leisure and recreational experiences, from safari adventures in the mountains, to memorable excursions in serene landscapes, and a taste of our lively cities.
Commenting on the reopening, Belise Kariza, the Chief Tourism Officer at RDB said: “Rwanda’s tourism industry is adapting to create a safe environment for travellers and operators, in order to thrive in these unprecedented times. We encourage all travel enthusiasts and nature explorers to take advantage of this unique opportunity to venture out and experience the beauty and adventure that our country has to offer.”
The board, which promotes tourism and investment for Rwanda, said the permits for tracking endangered mountain gorillas are, from Wednesday until Dec. 31, 2020, available for 200 U.S. dollars to Rwandan nationals and East African Community nationals residing in Rwanda, 500 dollars to foreign residents, a sharp slump from 1,500 dollars for all visitors.
It also said special packages are available for groups, families and corporations on other products in Volcanoes National Park, home to mountain gorillas, and Nyungwe National Park that hosts one of the oldest rainforests in Africa.
Specific precautionary measures are as follows:
- Domestic tourists visiting Nyungwe Forest National Park and Volcanoes National Park are required to test negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours prior to visiting these attractions for their safari tours in Rwanda.
- All visitors travelling by charter flights are expected to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to arrival. Tourists will take a second Coronavirus COVID-19 test prior to visiting any tourist attraction for Rwanda safaris.
A private test centre has been set up at Petit Stade, Amahoro National Stadium in the capital city of Kigali, by appointment only. Other test centres outside Kigali will be communicated as demand grows.
Following months of tourism activities’ suspension due to COVID-19, Rwanda’s tourism sector has been negatively affected and efforts are underway to revive through various special tourism packages for tourists, RDB’s deputy CEO Zephanie Niyonkuru told Rwanda Television in a news program on Wednesday.
He said the landlocked country generated 498 million dollars in tourism revenues in 2019.
Rwanda’s main Safari Parks
Rwanda has three main National parks; Volcanoes National Park famous for Rwanda gorilla trekking safaris, Nyungwe Forest National Park famous for chimpanzees & Canopy walk and Mukura-Gishwati. These had been closed since March due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.
There are over 1,000 mountain gorillas living in the world, of which a bit more than half live in the Virunga Mountains, where Volcanoes National Park Rwanda lies, according to the World Wildlife Fund. They contribute about 90 per cent of tourism revenues from Rwanda national parks, the RDB said in February last year. Statistics from the RDB shows that in 2018 Rwanda sold 15,132 mountain gorilla tour permits worth 19.2 million dollars to tourists.
National carrier RwandAir Ltd. said national borders remained closed to normal commercial flights and passenger services would resume once the restrictions are lifted. Rwanda locked down swathes of the economy soon after confirming its first case of the coronavirus. A total of 639 people have been infected so far and 290 are yet to recover.