September 3, 2016 / 8:57 AM / in a year

Rwanda's tourism earnings seen up 25 pct in 2016 from last year - official

KIGALI (Reuters) - Rwanda expects to boost its revenue earnings from tourism this year by 25.8 percent from 2015, helped by extra attractions including a new game park, an official told Reuters late on Friday.

The central African country famed for rolling green hills and treks to see endangered gorillas on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains, sees tourist earnings reaching $400 million this year, up from $318 million in 2015.

Francis Gatare chief executive officer of state-run Rwanda Development Board (RDB) told Reuters that Rwanda wanted to maximise earnings from visitors “by giving several opportunities so that they (visitors) can increase the length of stay in the country.”

A new national park called Gishwati-Mukura, the country’s fourth, a “cultural village” in the capital Kigali, a vast new hospitality facility called the Kigali Convention Centre, and new adventure activities on Lake Kivu would drive revenue growth, Gatare said.

Rwanda is credited with rapid growth since the 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of 800,000 people but critics of incumbent President Paul Kagame say his authoritarian style undermines the potential for long-term political stability.

The nation’s misty valleys and mountain gorillas are a strong magnet for tourists and visitor numbers in 2016 are expected to increase by 4 per cent up from 1.3 million in 2015.

Reporting by Clement Uwiringiyimana; writing by Elias Biryabarema; editing by Jon Boyle

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