Rwanda urges vigilance, reassures tourists amid COVID-19 threat

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Naomi Campbell, an English supermodel, actress, and businesswoman tracks Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda's Volcanoes National park (Courtesy Photo/File)
By :
Baluku Geoffrey

KIGALI – Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has produced guidelines for Tourists following the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak. These guidelines follow last week’s warning where government urged people to avoid handshakes and close body contact such as hugging.

In a notice to stakeholders, Clare Akamanzi, the RDB Chief Executive Officer said that Rwanda had not registered any case of COVID-19 and that tourism services continue to operate normally in all attractions of the country.

“Rwanda Development Board (RDB) assures all travelers and tourism stakeholders that Rwanda has not registered any case of COVID-19. Tourism services continue to operate normally in all attractions of the country,” the statement from RDB read in part.

The RDB however, noted that with the World Health Organisation (WHO) having declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern, the Government of Rwanda has established a multi-disciplinary team led by the office of the Prime minister in conjunction with among others, 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 history of all visitors, have been intensified,” Akamanzi said.

She also noted 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 cancellation or postponement rules for travel within Rwanda have been revised, Akamanzi added.

Among the interim changes were the removal of the 7-day notice period prior to visit date for tourists to postpone their park permits as well as the removal of the 30-day requirement prior to visit date, for tour operators to have submitted the final payment for reserved permits (Subject to submission of official documentation and availability).

Other changes subject to submission of official documentation and availability, are for tourists who wish to postpone their park permits because of flight cancellations, travel ban or being infected with COVID-19. These will have up to 2 years to postpone their bookings at no extra cost. This revised position also covers tourists who purchased low season discounted permits for mountain gorilla trekking, they are now free to postpone and make use of them anytime within a period of 2 years.

For MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Events) tourists who purchased discounted permits for mountain gorilla trekking are free to postpone and make use of the permits any time within a period of 2 years (Subject to availability).

According to Akamanzi, the revised cancellation and postponement offer unless, otherwise modified will be available for six months from March 9, 2020, and visits to the national parks or any other attractions following such permit modifications must be conducted once and within two years.

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