The world over, travel and touring companies are a by-word for reception, guide and information, in the touring industry, needless to say Rwandan touring and travel agencies are not an exception in this mad dash to welcome tourists and arrange the sight seeing desires of the varying tourist.
While neighboring countries have taken to advertising on international televisions, the tourism sector here has taken to investing the meager resources available in the hospitality industry and in the event wooing the throngs of tourists heading to this country.
Rwanda, being the bridge between the eco-systems of the Congo basin and the Great Rift Valley, is home to 324 of the world’s 700 mountain gorillas, those gentle giants with whom we share 97% our DNA, then home to Nyungwe Forest, the largest and most ancient Afro-montane forest remaining in East and Central Africa dating back to the last ice age coupled with the fact that it harbors the world’s largest ever recorded arboreal troop of black and white colobus monkeys, is drawing lots of tourist and in the end augmenting the service sector and those involved in the destination business.
Owing to all the above attractions and much more, the growing service sector in the country especially the touring and travel agencies, are going on to improve their services, tailor making their itineraries along the lines of the above tourist attractions and much more.
A random sampling of packages offered by the numerous tourist agencies revealed varying and interesting itineraries.
These range from eight day packages which include among so many stop overs, visiting the Akagera national game park, with full day game drives in the park, visits to the National Museum in Butare, with a stop over in Ibis hotel, then over to Nyungwe National park a trip which includes primates trekking and then a drive to lake Kivu.
There after, the trip continues on to a two day gorilla trekking trip in the Parc National Des Volcans, which is also climaxed with a night in five star intercontinental hotel in Kigali.
To a four day itinerary package which includes tours around the city, including the genocide memorial site in Gisozi, over nights in the five star intercontinental Kigali, then a two day gorilla trekking trip to the Parc National Des Volcans in Ruhengeri and then departure, all as offered by Primate Safaris Rwanda, a privately owned tour and travel agency in Kigali.
Another randomly picked touring agency, Great lakes Tours and Travels, offers an itinerary that is designed along virtually the same attractions as the ones offered above however spiced up with visits to cultural ceremonies, visits to Goma where visits are paid to the lava flows of Nyiragongo volcanoes at a paltry entrance fee in Congo of $ 50.
Visits to the National University in Butare, the National Museum and the kings Palace in Nyanza, complete the eight day package offered by this agency however there is also the added possibility of redesigning the itinerary to suit individual needs.
The above itineraries have not only been upped, facilities and improved services have been put in place to enable the best service delivery. A case in point is Kiboko Safaris a member of IATA that not only offers its similar but varying packages, boast of well trained tour guides with four wheel safari vehicles and a speed boat. As a matter of fact, it has included a new service on their itinerary which they have called Kiboko marine safaris with a boat, on Lake Kivu with a carrying capacity of 8 people to allow its clients more exposure to the secret hideaway islands, ideal for a getaway or a cozy picnic and more so the boat is an alternative to the bumpy winding roads and provides a faster access to and from Cyangungu/ Kibuye/ Gisenyi.
Encouragingly the Kiboko Safari agency is not alone in giving a tourist a highly enlightening and enjoyable eco-tourism experience. Primate Safari is also on this one, boasting 14 fulltime employees who include a sizeable number of professional driver-guides, experienced gorilla trackers and all backed by a sizeable fleet of specially converted four wheel drive jeeps.
A majority of the surveyed touring agencies also provided other miscellaneous services, for foreign tourists and local tourist, such as domestic and international air ticketing, assistance in immigration formalities such as visa application and hotel reservation, upon request.
All the above highlighted services offered along with the varying itinerary packages and more, if continuously improved, the targeted goals of this nation, in building a robust economy whose weight would greatly hinge on its tourist industry, is very attainable.