KIGALI, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- Rwanda plans to double tourism earnings in the coming years through sustainable wildlife conservation, a top official in the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) said Tuesday.
Clare Akamanzi, chief executive officer of RDB, said this while speaking at the country's fourth conversation on conservation conference in the Rwandan Capital Kigali organized by the government of Rwanda ahead of the annual baby gorilla naming ceremony commonly known as Kwita Izina.
"Our aim is to double tourism revenues in the next few years through sustainable conservation of wildlife that is being threatened by habitat loss due to human encroachment," she said.
She noted that through wildlife conservation program, the government has successfully implemented actions to solve those threats, building trust with local communities, trying and adapting innovative solutions.
"As part of sustainable strategy, the government introduced tourism revenue sharing scheme with communities surrounding national parks in order to support their social and economic development," Akamanzi noted.
According to her, 10 percent of tourism revenues support communities around national parks through infrastructure development such as schools, hospitals, hotels and roads.
It also supports artisans, farmers' cooperatives and other various categories.
The conference that runs from Sept. 4 to 5 has brought together more than 500 conservationists from across Rwanda and beyond to discuss, and find solutions to the challenges affecting tourism development.
Belize Kaliza, chief tourism officer of RDB said that apart from wildlife conservation, the government has strengthened its tourism marketing strategy through Visit Rwanda campaign, among others.
"Tourism promotion coupled with sustainable wild conservation measures key to double our tourism revenues and boost our economy," she noted.
Rwanda's tourism sector generated 438 million U.S dollars in 2017. However, the country targets to double tourism receipts to 800 million dollars by 2024, according to RDB.
Rwanda is set to give names to 23 baby gorillas, born late last year and this year in annual Kwita Izina' ceremony slated for September 7 at the footsteps of volcanoes national park, Musanze district, Northern Province.
The baby gorilla naming ceremony to be celebrated for fourteenth time is preceded by a week-long celebration of events dubbed: "Conservation and Sustainable Tourism - a foundation for future generations".
Gorillas contribute about 90 percent of tourism revenues from Rwanda national parks, according to RDB.
The population of mountain gorillas, one of the world's most endangered species, increased by 25 percent from 480 in 2010 to 604 in 2016, according to a latest census commissioned by the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC).