Thursday, 15 December 2016

RWANDA: Tourists Visit National Parks More Than The Museum

Despite having registered steady progress in recent years, the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda (INNMR) still faces the persistent challenge of failure in attracting more clients.

Ambassador Robert Masozera the new director general finds some crucial issues which still stand in the way of making the institute profitable.

Mr Masozera replaces Alphonse Umulisa, who was sacked in May for alleged mismanagement of the office. “We can now confidently point out what we hope can boost this institution in various areas, which await him,” explains Dr Ivan Twagirashema, a board of director.

The museum is on track having met its performance contracts for the previous year. The institute managed to reach 98 per cent consumption of its previous year’s budget compared with the previous years where it only reached between 80 to 85 per cent according to Isidore Ndikumana, the director of Cultural Tourism Promotion Unit, who has been the acting director general since May this year.

The new director general comes at a time when the institute is steadily growing from the only ethnographic museums in Huye, which was initiated in 1989 to seven established museums and over 500 other discovered heritage sites, which undergo development each year, “Most of them aren’t protected enough to generate income, so the museum is developing them each year,” Mr Ndikumana explains.

National Parks have dominated the tourism sector attracting many tourists at the expense of cultural tourism which has now become one of the government’s long-term projects in tourism development.

Rwanda’s tourism product diversification agenda which has the potential to improve the annual foreign revenue generated by tourism does not seem to be well implemented considering the fact that some sectors aren’t vibrant when it comes to income generation.

According to 2014-2015 data, nature tourism which incorporates natural parks and others, brings in approximately Rwf25.3 billion annually compared with the cultural tourism which generates Rwf177 million, of which Rwf200 million is generated by museums.

“Natural tourism exceeds cultural tourism by far, people visit natural parks much more than cultural sites. But about 164 people visit museums annually, where 70 per cent are locals and 30 per cent foreigners. This number, we believe can be raised,” explains Ambassador Masozera.

Mr Ndikumana too admits how there is a need for a drive among both the locals and foreigners towards embracing cultural tourism.

“Cultural tourism needs to be well incorporated into the general tourism package so that even when foreigners come, they can be guided towards museums so as to raise and balance the tourism revenue,” he explains.

“We need to put much emphasis on marketing. But with the little we hold, we can further implement a marketing strategy to promote our museums through trade fair within and out of the country so as to increase our audience,” Mr Ndikumana urges.

The museum recently joined hands with the National Capacity Building Secretariat to work on measures of funding the museum to enable it get an international consultant to develop a strategic plan for marketing the museums at an international level.

This consultant will also help to a study through evaluation and design a budget to enable museums to invest for further development, which is also to include the development of more heritage sites into active museum centres.

Among the interventions suggested, the museums institute in partnership with Rwanda Development Board (RDB) will start a sensitisation campaign to boost cultural tourism with close focus to museums according to Masozera.