Kigali — The number of tourists visiting the national parks to see Rwanda’s famous primates increased by 12 percent in the first quater of 2010, according to the information from Rwanda Development Board (RDB) office of Tourism and Conservation.
Joel Rudasingwa, the Tourism Research and Statistics Officer at RDB-Tourism and Conservation said the increase can be attributed to the healing global financial crisis that affected the sector last year.
“The great decrease was observed in the first semester of 2009, which can be attributed to the global financial crisis, which put many countries in recession,”
However, from July to September 2009 which is the high season, gorilla visits surpassed 156 people every day.
Official statistics from RDB indicate that in the first quarter of 2010 gorilla visits have generated Rwf1.2 billion with about 4,000 visitors.
Comparing to last year same period, Rwanda registered a 12 percent increment with this year’s target being 16,500 gorilla visitors.
With the gorillas being very rare species in the world, Rwanda boasts of almost 280 gorillas in total with Uganda and DR Congo having a good number of the primates.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), there are around 700 of the endangered species in the territorial boundaries of Rwanda, Congo and Uganda.
Records show that the Volcano and Virunga Mountains of Rwanda and Congo host about 380 gorillas while Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a home of over 300 primates.
Tourism is Rwanda’s leading export earner ahead of tea and coffee. The sector contributes about 3.5 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and it is expected to account for 5.8 percent of the GDP by 2016.
Gorilla trekking generates the highest revenues in visits to Rwanda’s three national parks. It is believed that about 85 percent of visitors to the Volcanoes National Park are attracted by gorilla trekking experience.