Rwanda reassures tourists amid coronavirus threat
The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) on Monday, March 9, assured all travellers and tourism stakeholders that Rwanda has not registered any case of COVID-19, so far, and tourism services continue to operate normally in all country attractions.
This comes after the Ministry of Health, on Sunday, March 8, issued six new instructions for COVID-19 screening at all points of entry to the country.
The move is part of the government’s continued precautionary measures against the deadly outbreak, which has claimed the lives of more than 3,800 people globally.
In a statement, RDB noted that it also recognises that under the current global environment, some tourists may find it necessary to reschedule their travel plans and restrict international travel.
As a result, the Board revised cancellation or postponement rules in five ways so as to facilitate or lessen the discomfort of tourists, and tour operators, among other stakeholders.
The five revisions are as follows:
• Removal of the 7-day notice period prior to the visit date, for tourists to postpone their park permits (Subject to submission of official documentation and availability).
• Removal of the 30-day requirement prior to the visit date, for tour operators to have submitted the final payment for reserved permits (Subject to submission of official documentation and availability).
• Tourists who wish to postpone their park permits because of flight cancellations or travel ban or being infected with COVID-19 have up to 2 years to postpone their bookings at no extra cost. (Subject to submission of official documentation and availability).
• Tourists who purchased low season discounted permits for mountain gorilla trekking are free to postpone and consume them anytime within a period of 2 years, (Subject to availability).
• MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Events) tourists who purchased discounted permits for mountain gorilla trekking are free to postpone and consume them anytime within a period of two years (subject to availability).
“This offer, unless otherwise modified, is available for six months from the date of signature of this announcement, and visits to the national parks or any other attractions following such permit modifications must be conducted once and within two years from the date of signature…” reads part of the RDB statement.
The current outbreak of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was first reported from Wuhan, China, on December 31, 2019.
Global tourism industry hit
Reports indicate that the new coronavirus fears have left tourist hotspots empty worldwide.
The travel industry is grappling with declining numbers of passengers in the continuously changing scenario.
Some projections suggest the airline industry could lose upwards of $100 billion, much of that due to a drop in the Chinese market, which determines the fate of so many other economies around the world.
Health authorities in Zanzibar have barred Italian tourists from visiting the island following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Italy.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates that the Covid-19 outbreak could cause a decline in tourism revenue for Brunei.
Rwanda continues stepping up preventive measures.
An extraordinary Cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame on March 6, reaffirmed a strengthened approach to contain the potential spread of the coronavirus – or COVID19 – outbreak in Rwanda.
Among other things, the Government has established a multidisciplinary team led by the Office of the Prime Minister in conjunction with the Ministries of health, local government and security organs to strengthen the country’s level of preparedness.
Increased surveillance measures at all points of entry using high-tech equipment and medics to screen and check travel histories of all visitors have been intensified.
All Rwandans have been urged to take appropriate precautions and follow the advice of health professionals and avoid unnecessary internal or international travels and large gatherings, among others.