Rwanda Lifts Covid-19 Tests For Park Entry
In a bid to revive its struggling tourism industry amidst the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) made an important announcement on Monday, May 29, 2023. Tourists planning to explore Rwanda’s national parks will no longer be obliged to undergo COVID-19 testing. However, individuals visiting primates within these parks will still be required to wear face masks, as emphasized by the RDB.
The decision comes as a welcome relief for travelers, as they will no longer need to provide a negative COVID-19 test to access the national parks. The RDB’s statement explicitly mentions that this relaxation applies to all tourists, including children above five years old, when applicable. Nonetheless, the mandatory use of face masks for those engaging with primates is a measure aimed at safeguarding both human and animal health.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Rwanda, the RDB swiftly implemented strict regulations to protect tourists and wildlife within the national parks. These regulations included compulsory COVID-19 testing and the mandatory use of face masks throughout the pandemic.
Charter flight arrivals also faced rigorous testing requirements, necessitating a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival, along with a second test before visiting any tourist attractions.
The recent decision to eliminate COVID-19 testing for tourists aligns with the World Health Organization’s declaration on May 5, 2023, stating that COVID-19 no longer poses a “global health emergency.” The policy change aims to foster the recovery of Rwanda’s tourism industry, which has been severely impacted by the ongoing pandemic.
RDB data reveals that Rwanda’s tourism revenues experienced a remarkable surge in 2022, reaching 445 million U.S. dollars. This figure signifies a substantial growth of 171.3 percent from the previous year. The potential for nature-based tourism to propel the country’s economic growth has been emphasized in the latest RDB report.
Gorilla trekking, a captivating and unique tourist attraction in Rwanda, played a significant role in driving revenue. The RDB reported that it generated an impressive $113 million in revenues alone.
In 2022, Rwanda experienced a surge in visitors to its national parks, welcoming approximately 110,000 tourists. This surge represents a remarkable increase of 142.4 percent compared to the previous year, highlighting the country’s appeal as a tourist destination.
The RDB has set its sights on an ambitious target of increasing tourism receipts to $800 million by 2024, demonstrating a commitment to the sector’s growth and resurgence.
As Rwanda moves forward with a more relaxed testing policy, it hopes to entice more visitors, both local and international, to explore its natural wonders and contribute to the country’s tourism-driven economic recovery.
About the Rwanda Development Board: The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) is a government agency responsible for the promotion and sustainable development of Rwanda’s tourism, investment, and export sectors. With a focus on enhancing Rwanda’s global competitiveness, the RDB plays a vital role in driving economic growth and attracting investments in various industries.