Despite the recent attack by FDLR rebels in Kinigi, hundreds of tourists are defying the scare and pouring in to Rwanda’s top touristic hotspot.
The Rwanda Development Board announced on Wednesday that since Saturday, after the rebel attack in Kinigi, the foot of the Virunga Mountain, over 600 tourists have visited the Volcanoes National Park.
This Wednesday alone, 59 tourists visted the endangered gorillas and 68 more tourists visited the park for other activities such as hiking the Virunga Mountains and visiting other primates such as golden monkeys.Earlier in the morning, RDB CEO, Claire Akamanzi traveled to the area where she met the Governor of the Northern Province Governor, JMV Gatabaze and security organs and organized an interactive session with tourists in Kinigi ahead of their hike to trek the magnificent mountain gorillas.
Akamanzi and Gatabazi briefed the tourists on the state of tourism and security in the area. Akamanzi said what happened in Kinigi was unfortunate but thanked the security organs for the quick intervention.
Akamanzi said that she joined 123 tourists in Kinigi to share why Rwanda remains a very safe country.
“It is our singular goal and priority to ensure tourists are safe and have exceptional experience.”
She said that over the last four days, “we welcomed more than 600 visitors of gorillas ans golden monkeys.”
Gatabazi told the tourists who had gathered to enjoy gorilla tracking peacefully and thanked them for contributing to the economic development of the country.Kinigi Sector was attacked by rebels killing eight residents and injuring 18 others. Security organs hunted them down killing 19 and capturing five.
After the attack, RDB released a statement and said that “tourism services continue to operate normally in the Volcanoes National Park and all other National Parks and attractions in Rwanda … All visitors to Volcanoes National Park were and continue to be safe.”
The area is home to high end hotels tailored for top spenders, the likes of Bill Gates and Ellen DeGeneres.
Ellen has created a foundation that mobilises resources for a facility that runs conservation activities including protecting the gorillas.
Brigadier General Vincent Gatama, 2nd Division Commander of the region told about 70 players in the tourism industry, including tour operators, hoteliers and conservation partners, who were also present that “the attackers didn’t target businesses but other facilities and we stopped them before they got there. Your businesses and properties are protected.”
Akamanzi also affirmed the region’s safety and commended the security organs for quickly containing last weekend’s attack. “I want to assure you that stability has been restored.”
“The government was open with us after the incident and shared the facts with us quickly which we are very grateful for. Our visitors were safe and went to trek mountain gorillas the next morning,” Keith Vincent, CEO of Bisate Lodge told journalists.