RDB announces date for 17th Kwita Izina ceremony

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A total of 24 baby gorillas will be given names on the 17th Kwita Izina ceremony, according to the acting Chief Tourism Officer at the Rwanda Development Board, (RDB), Ariella Kageruka.

The gorillas, she said, are part of a 328 population that have been named in the annual ceremony since 2005. Overall, Rwanda monitors 370 mountain gorillas, whose birth rate stands at 3.5 percent, according to the latest census.

Kageruka said this on Friday, August 27, while addressing the media during a briefing on this year’s Kwibuka Izina ceremony. She was flanked by several other officials both from the government and public sector.

“Like last year, the ceremony will be held virtually,” she said, “It will feature updates on Rwanda’s conservation efforts, including the health of the mountain gorillas, the need to expand their habitat, and how the Government of Rwanda is improving the livelihoods of communities while enabling wildlife conservation.”

In addition, she added, it will highlight the newly opened Gishwati-Mukura National Park, Rwanda’s fourth National Park and UNESCO biosphere reserve.

Much as the ceremony is virtual, Kageruka assured that among the namers included some global A-listers, like it has been the custom over the years.

She however declined to disclose the namers, insisting that RDB will announce their names ‘at the right time’.

When pressed for details, she said, “This year’s namers includes notable partners in various sectors such as tourism, conservation, health, sports, among others.”

They also include international celebrities, dignitaries and friends of Rwanda, she added.

This is the second time, Rwanda celebrates the gorilla naming ceremony virtually, as the country strengthens its battle against the pandemic.

Owing to the pandemic, Kageruka decried that Rwanda’s tourism revenues declined by a whopping 76 percent compared to $498 million collected in 2019.

However, she highlighted, since the reopening, inbound tourism to Rwanda has shown a promising return.

For instance, she said that from January to July, Rwanda hosted 246,000 visitors in total and in terms of tourism arrivals through the Kigali International Airport, we can see positive signs of recovery.

The number can be linked to 31 percent compared to 2019 arrivals for the same period -generating revenues of over $61million.

“The high-end market has particularly shown good signs of recovery which accounts for 15% over other segments.”

As the private sector, the key thing has been ensuring that our destination is safe, said Bonita Mutoni, Chairperson of Rwanda Tour and Travel Association.

“Travelers are very cautious today, beyond the beautiful baby gorillas, we are looking to do so much more such as diversify our products among other strategies.”

Source: New Times -Rwanda

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