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Kagame gets top world tourism award

Kigali Convention Centre

The construction of Kigali Convention Center now positions Rwanda as an international conference and meetings destination. The addition of over 1,600 international brands four and five star lodge and hotel rooms, including Marriott, Radisson Blu, Bisate by Wilderness Safaris and One & Only Nyungwe House, Ubumwe Grande that has been acquired by Double Tree by Hilton has resulted in the creation of over 90,000 jobs in the overall hospitality industry.

Sustainability is critical to a sound tourism policy and Rwanda has ensured that 10% of all tourism revenue is given back to the communities surrounding the country’s four national parks. This money is used to fund local priority projects such as schools, health centers and business that promote sustainability benefiting thousands of Rwandans.

Rwanda’s Conservation efforts have made a major impact on the growth of the world-renowned mountain gorilla population by 26.3% since the last census in 2010. The Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is now home to 305 mountain gorillas which accounts for more than half the population in the Virunga Massif.

Other conservation milestones in Rwanda took place in the Akagera National Park, where fencing of the park led to a reduction in human-wildlife conflict. Also in Akagera, there was the recent reintroduction of lions and rhinos.  There is also a marked reduction in poaching throughout the country, for example in 2013, more than 2000 snares were collected from the park whereas in 2017, only 1 snare was collected. Similarly, in 2017, no arrests were made compared to back in 2013 when more than 200 poachers’ arrests were made.

Another major conservation achievement was the proclamation of Gishwati Mukura National Park bringing the total number of national parks to four with 9% of land now managed as protected national parks.

The other award winners

Charity Challenge was honoured in London on Monday, in recognitionfor creating, managing, and delivering international fundraising expeditions across 6 continents and 38 countries, which over the last 18 years have inspired tens of thousands of people to raise more than £50million for 1,800 charities, as well as themselves donating close to £500,000 to community projects.”

The third honouree, Micato Safaris-AmericaShare, was in recognition “for its philanthropic work that has improved the lives of thousands of orphaned and vulnerable African children through the gift of education, including the Micato One for One Commitment, which sends a child to school for every safari sold.

The World Tourism Award itself, Inspire, was specially designed and handcrafted on the Mediterranean Island of Malta by Mdina Glass, and celebrates the qualities of leadership and vision that inspire others to reach new heights.

Presenting the Awards on behalf of the sponsors on Monday were Matthew Dixon, Commercial Director, Corinthia Hotels; Patrick Falconer, Executive Director – UK, The New York Times; and representing Reed Travel Exhibitions, Jeanette Gilbert, Head of Marketing & Communications, World Travel Market.  Guest speaker at the Awards Ceremony was Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

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