Nyabihu: Residents Call for Support to Boost Tourism Activities | The new times

The Nyabihu district geographically has the largest part of the Volcanoes National Park; however, residents denounce the slowness of tourist activities despite the presence of important tourist attractions.

Among the problems mentioned as those hindering this development are the lack of infrastructure and proper tourist facilities such as well-developed roads, hotels and cafes, among others, which tend to facilitate tourists.

A number of locals who spoke to The New Times are considering potential tourism businesses that could be booming but remain rather less active.

Kabatwa is one of the sectors of the Nyabihu district which borders the Karisimbi volcano.

As you walk through this area commonly known for its huge production of Irish potatoes, you will be able to observe the poor infrastructure, including a lack of tarmac roads which hampers mobility.

Théogene Niyobuhungiro, a Kabatwa resident and tour guide, said more needs to be done to boost tourism in the area: “More needs to be done to keep tourists coming and to use the place as a gateway to the Park”.

Emelence Nirere, 45, a mother of three, is eyeing this potential development and hopefully will also be able to earn a living from the potential tourist activities.

“Tourists could come in droves and boost our development as well. When tourists come, we get money,” she said.

Francine Nzagirwanimana, 38, believes that once hotels and smooth roads are present, the area is likely to thrive.

What officials say

According to the national representative of the International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP), Benjamin Mugabukomeye, since a large part of the volcano national park is on the side of Nyabihu, many gorillas move there in search of a large area. of dwelling.

“Many families of gorillas are here. This is a great opportunity for local residents and the district itself to take advantage of it, but infrastructure remains a challenge. There should be a reception for the Rwanda Development Board as a gateway for tourists into the park,” he noted.

Speaking to The New Times, Jean Claude Habanabakize, Deputy Mayor of Nyabihu District in charge of Economic Development, disclosed that the district was working with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) to define and develop the tourist destinations available in the district.

“We are still behind on hotel infrastructure; there are also a lot of tourist spots that need to be known for the residents and the district to enjoy,” Habanabakize said.

“We are currently working with RDB for a tourism master plan, we are looking for advice and how tourism activities can be carried out smoothly in the district,” he added.

Park expansion

According to RDB, there is a “park expansion” project that will bring a transformation of life in and near communities.

“It is a matter of time as we are working on improving tourism activities in the area as we are also keeping wildlife conservation in the park,” said Prosper Uwingeli, the chief director of Volcanoes National Park.

He advised residents to consider investments as well, as RDB deals with the promotion and marketing of the area.

“RDB has been promoting and marketing since the national park was expanded where tourists now come to Musanze, Nyabihu and Rubavu. It is up to them to invest,” he noted.

Uwingeli further explained that “in the future, based on the tourism activities being established, of course, more infrastructure will happen in Nyabihu district.”

Currently, there are more than 50 community cooperatives in the park that directly benefit from it, according to RDB.

However, there are still challenges that hinder their development, such as water scarcity, human-wildlife conflict caused by monkeys, buffaloes, among other issues.

“All of these problems require a long-term solution,” Uwingeli said.

With the expansion of Volcanoes National Park, model villages and accommodations are some of the things that are expected to change the livelihoods of the area.


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