Rwanda ‘Preferred Destination’ for UK Travelers

British travellers are increasingly choosing to go to Rwanda because it offers exciting holiday bargains compared to most African and European countries, according to new data released by the world’s largest travel site, TripAdvisor.

Despite the increasing number of British tourists, United States maintains the largest number of tourist heading to Rwanda, closely followed by the UK, India and Belgium, according to the figures from the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

TripAdvisor, this week, indicated that it has seen a 656 percent increase in searches on Rwanda by people planning a holiday.

Rwanda is said to not only offer safari at a much cheaper price than more mainstream African destinations, but also gorilla trekking in the north of the country, on top of other exciting scenic offers.

“We’re seeing rapidly growing interest in destinations like Rwanda showing that British travellers may be becoming more intrepid and looking for something different than the traditional beach holiday,” Emma O’Boyle, of TripAdvisor said.

O’Boyle noted that British holidaymakers are becoming more adventurous hence choosing new destinations that were once termed “dangerous” security-wise but now these countries have stabilised and upstaged their increasingly expensive “stable” counterparts.

In an interview recently, the head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB, Rica Rwigamba, said that there has indeed been a surge in the number of tourists choosing Rwanda as their destination.

Rwigamba said during the first semester of this year, Rwanda hosted 405,801 visitors, a 27 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

“These visitors generated an estimate of revenues worth US$115.6m, compared to almost US$90.6 million generated last year during the same period (a 28 percent increase),” she said

Rwigamba noted that in the first semester, UK arrivals increased by 30 percent this year. The UK market increased annually in terms of arrivals by 17 percent, 0.05 percent, and 5 percent in 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively. In 2011, there was a great increase of 30 percent compared to the last four years (2007 to 2010).

“This is great news for Rwandan tourism, especially because it has come from the world’s largest travel site, which shows that there has been a 656 percent increase for British people wishing to visit Rwanda,” Rwigamba said.

“We have been marketing in the UK for the last decade and we have seen a great increase recently. Rwanda was recently voted among the best travel destinations by Wanderlust, as well, earlier this year, and all this provides more confidence that the country is becoming a growing and interesting tourism destination on the world map.”

TripAdvisor, however, indicated that while some expensive destinations have lost to their less expensive neighbours, some countries do not remain popular for long.

Libya, which was enjoying a boom in tourists coming to see Roman ruins, is now off limits again and Syria, that was popular for short breaks to Damascus, has been hit by civil unrest.

In an interview recently, the CEO of Rwanda Eco-Tours, Edwin Sabuhoro, said that indeed there is an increase in the volumes of tourists from UK.

“From a private sector perspective, this increase means increased business opportunities as well as a trickle down effect to the local communities and the Rwandan population as a whole in terms of job creation and wealth distribution,” Sabuhoro said.

“We attribute this growth to the marketing campaign and investment by both the public and private sector to market Rwanda as a pristine destination as well as the recognition of Rwanda as a safe, clean and off the beaten track destination”.

“Unique tourism products that compliment the other EAC destinations, as well as the leadership precedent set by our government and the improved investment ranking by World Bank, are contributing factors,” he added.