The Rwanda Development Board in partnership with Google has conducted the mapping exercise of Rwanda’s tourism attractions with the objective of increasing access to tourism information on the web.
The so-called Rwanda Tourism MapUp started in Kigali before continuing to Musanze and Rubavu where key touristic features and attractions were mapped to be added to the Google map list.
The mapping will cover hotels, restaurants, road networks, entertainment facilities, banks and forex bureaus, business and shopping centers, historical sites and geographic features among others.
“Rwanda is proud to be the first African country to work with Google, citizen mappers and tourism operators to systematically map all tourism facilities and attractions,” said Rica Rwigamba, RDB’s head of tourism and conservation. “The aim of this exercise is to increase discoverability through search engines where more tourism destinations are chosen by travelers worldwide.”
According to Rwanda’s sustainable tourism development master plan, the Internet is now firmly established as the most important means of communication in global travel industry. It is estimated that around 70% of travel decisions are made using websites.
Forty participants including professional mappers, GIS experts, university students and tourism operators took part in Rwanda Tourism MapUp, and it is planned that updates will be made regularly.
In 2011, tourism sector overtook coffee and tea to become Rwanda’s top foreign exchange earner. This was facilitated by increased flight frequencies by national carrier RwandAir and the arrival in Kigali of new airlines such as KLM. Collaboration among tourism stakeholders when promoting and marketing tourism and increased PR campaigns also boosted Rwanda’s tourism sector, which earned an estimated US$ 216 million in 2011.