As part of the global movement to raise awareness on the impact of tourism on communities, Rwanda’s annual gorilla naming ceremony, Kwita-Izina, has been aligned to the World Tourism Month.
This was announced yesterday by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) during a news conference.
According to the organisers, the 12th edition of the Kwita-Izina will be held in September, the same month in which the world celebrates how tourism affects global communities socially, economically, culturally and politically.
Belise Kaliza, the chief tourism officer at RDB, said that the ceremony was shifted from between June and July to September since the last year, as part of boosting tourism businesses.
“This year, we intend to align the Kwita-Izina celebrations with the Northern Corridor Integration Project (NICP) activities and, more importantly, with the World Tourism Month activities,” she said.
Kaliza added that having the naming ceremony coincide with the World Tourism Month gives the event more exposure, giving the country a chance to share its sustainable tourism and conservation story globally.
Benefiting the local people
Kaliza added that this year’s Kwita-Izina will be organised in such a way that involve the local people more.
“This year will be a national celebration of conservation and sustainable tourism achievements. However, to interest the local people (Rwandans), we have a number of activities set to take place during that month where, for instance, trade exhibitions are organised to provide opportunities for Rwandans to participate and explore what their country has to offer,” she noted.
According to Kaliza, a survey that was conducted to find out why local tourism is still low, 15 per cent of the respondents said it is because of lack of information while the rest indicated that they lacked money.
In light of this, RDB officials say they are closely working with different private sector stakeholders to set the minimal tariffs for local people to easily enable them tour the country’s features.
Private sector intervention
Meanwhile, the private sector has pledged to play a key role in building a sustainable tourism industry.
According to Francine Havugimana, the vice-chairperson of the Chamber of Tourism at the Private Sector Federation, strong partnerships with the private sector and government is crucial.
“As the private sector, we need to actively take part and probably take full responsibility in the future to organise these events. We have realised how beneficial they are to all of us, just from the hotel owners and travel and tour agencies, to local communities,” she said.
Meanwhile, this year’s celebration will be held under the theme, ‘United in Driving Growth through Conservation’, during which 19 baby gorillas are expected to be named.
Kwita-Izina was initiated as a result of efforts by the government in collaboration with various conservation partners, private sector and local communities to actively protect the endangered mountain gorillas.