Tourism sector in turmoil as coronavirus impact strikes

Wednesday September 16 2020

Akagera

The pandemic hit incomes of thousands who benefited from tourism in different parts of the country. FILE PHOTO 

ANGE ILIZA
By ANGE ILIZA
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Jeannette Mukamanzi, 26, lives in Kinigi sector, Musanze district, near Volcanoes National Park.

One year ago, she managed to acquire a small loan as a capital from one of the surrounding hotels and started a small business in her neighbourhood.

“My plan was to pay off the loan, take another one but with bigger amount and move my business to a bigger place,” she told Rwanda Today.

Today, Ms Mukamanzi’s is business is struggling and the other loan she was aspiring for has been canceled by the hotel whose operations were halted by Covid-19 pandemic.

She was hoping that in September when the annual gorilla-naming ceremony commonly known as Kwita Izina, takes place, she would make at least Rwf150,000 from the jobs she used to get before the event took place and be able to revive her business.

Unfortunately, Kwita Izina 2020 will be held virtually.

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Ms Mukamanzi is one of thousands of Rwandans who benefited from tourism in different parts of the country.

Such areas are reserved 10 per cent of the income generated from tourism that adds to employment and business opportunities that come with high tourists traffic.

Due to Covid-19 pandemic, international passenger flights and tourism have been out of operation since late March when Rwanda recorded its first Covid-19 infection.

A three-month lockdown that was followed by stringent measures to contain the spread of the virus were put in place by the government.

Tourism, as one of the main income-generating sources of the country was among the most affected areas.

Rwanda was projecting to grow tourism revenues from $498 million earned in 2019 to $800 million by 2024.

With different projects including two multi-million dollar deals with European football clubs — London-based Arsenal FC and French league champions Paris Saint-Germain, tourism revenues have doubled in the past few years.

Between 2010 and 2019, tourism revenues had more than doubled from $202 million annual revenues to $498 million in 2019.

That was, however, before 2020 came and born a totally different reality in existence today.

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