BUJUMBURA, 25 January 2021 – Burundi’s tourism ministry is launching an ambitious new tourism strategy aimed at winning for the country a bigger share of Africa’s tourism pie.
“We shall start with campaigns that encourage locals to explore their country,” said Carmen Nibigiria, the director general of Burundi National Tourism Office said.
Burundi’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism, which is supervising the effort, says the marketing promotions to locals will be followed, later in 2021, by the launch of another digital marketing campaign targeting travelers from across the rest of Africa (notably Central and East African neighbors), Europe, Asia and the Americas.
Tourism officials who sell Burundi as “The Heart of Africa” say the new strategy is aimed at putting Burundi at “The Heart of African Tourism”.
The long-held perception that Burundi is stuck in armed conflict and decades of political instability, has led many tourists to conclude that it is unsafe to visit.
As a result, tourists have bypassed Burundi in favor of its neighbors: Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Each of Burundi’s four neighbors was attracting over one million tourist arrivals a year prior to the outbreak of the new coronavirus pandemic, leading to each of them racking in annual revenues in excess of one billion dollars from the sector.
Burundi, on the other hand, recorded 299,331 tourist arrivals mostly from its neighbors DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, generating a mere $16 million in annual tourism revenue.
Stepping up foreign arrivals entails broadening choice, improving hotels and increasing the number of flights coming into the landlocked central African nation a week.
Currently, only 11 flights operated by Brussels Airlines, RwandaAir, Tanzania Airlines, Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines ferry passengers to Burundi per week.
That will change with the launch in 2021 of Burundi Airlines, 11 years after Air Burundi went under.
Burundi has immensely improved its hotel industry.
As of December 2020, the country had a total of 595 hotels – 51 of which had star ratings – compared to only 87 in 2010.
Burundi shares the same rainforests with its magnificient collection of birds with neighboring DR Congo.
It shares the same landscapes of undulating hills with next-door Rwanda, land of a thousand hills.
Together with DR Congo, Tanzania and Zambia, Burundi sahres Lake Tanganyika with its attractive beaches.
Burundi’s Kibira National Park, home to nearly 100 mammal species, is the closest animal lovers can describe as a “twin sister” to Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park.