KIGALI, Rwanda – Rwanda’s annual Kwita Izina, which involves the Rwandan tradition of having the community and invited guests name baby Mountain Gorillas, will join two other projects for the United Nations World Tourism Organization Ulysses Award.
The finals are set for Madrid, Spain ion January 22nd. This was announced by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) after a list of the finalists was published at the end of last year.
“We are so grateful for this chance to participate in the finals of innovative projects by UNWTO,” Valentine Rugwabiza, the RDB Chief Executive Officer, said.
He said this was a global recognition of the efforts made by Rwanda in innovative, community focused and sustainable tourism.
Kwita Izina was launched in 2005 and has so far seen 173 baby gorillas named by different people who include the Rwandan President Paul Kagame, the First Lady Jeanette Kagame, various Hollywood stars, renowned journalists, tourism personalities, conservationists among others.
Such an event is in line with creating and raising awareness for the conservation of the endangered Mountain Gorillas. At the same time Rwandan tourist attractions and destinations are promoted, particularly for the community surrounding the Volcanoes National Park where the gorillas live.
“Rwanda is on the right track of developing tourism and RDB will continue forming a basis for continued positioning of the country as a high end destination that puts first sustainable tourism development which integrates both biodiversity conservation and community development,” the Head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB, Rica Rwigamba, said.
She said this was a great opportunity to market Rwanda even more widely in the tourism industry.
During the forthcoming 10th edition of Kwita Izina later this year, it is anticipated that the event will get increased publicity due to UNWTO recognition.
To date, the event has raised Rwf 586.838.751, (about $978.065) for community development as part of the RDB’s tourism revenue sharing scheme.
It has evolved from a one day celebration to weeks and this mainly benefits the surrounding community.
Since 2003 UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism have honoured tourism initiatives that contribute to advanced tourism through knowledge and innovation in line with principles of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and the united nations millennium development goals.
This event has again increased on revenue got from tourism and therefore this is why it is crucial to developed it even more.
Meanwhile, according to UNWTO, compared to the same period in 2012, international tourist arrivals grew 5 percent in the first nine months of 2013, UNWTO’s latest ‘UNWTO World Tourism Barometer’ shows that destinations around the world welcomed a record 845 million overnight visitors in the first nine months of this year. That’s 41 million more overnight visitors than the first nine months of 2012.
Growth was especially strong in Europe and Asia Pacific, where international tourist numbers rose 6 percent.