Speaking at the Luxperience exhibition and conference in Sydney this week, Belise Kariza, chief tourism officer at Rwanda Development Board, emphasised the country is safe and clean with a number of attractions beyond the famous mountain gorilla population. ‘A lot of people see us as an add-on to places like South Africa, Kenya or Tanzania. We are looking at changing that and hope to become a full destination of choice. ‘We’re positioning Rwanda as an ecoadventure, luxury destination and we hope to double our tourism receipts by 2024.’ (Tourism is already the number one foreign exchange earner in Rwanda.)
She says Rwanda had some 600 rooms in 2003, but now has 10,000. Rwandair, the national carrier, flies to 26 destinations (most in Africa, but also to Europe) and is soon adding a flight to New York. Kariza adds that having high end accommodation brand names in the destination is important. ‘As soon as people heard One & Only was going to open in Rwanda the whole narrative changed.’ Rwanda exhibited at Luxperience for the first time and was a finalist in the event’s destination awards.