Back from the brink
Wednesday 22 Aug 2018
Everybody loves a comeback story. After overcoming internal unrest, places like Rwanda, Georgia and Egypt are firmly back on the tourist map. They are proof that destinations can come back from the brink and welcome visitors to a country reinvented.
Just over 20 years ago, Rwanda was in the midst of a terrible civil war. But today, the country’s outlook couldn't be more different. It’s now one of the hottest destinations in Africa, home to a thriving gorilla trekking industry and an increasing number of luxury hotels and lodges (like the stylish Nyungwe House by One&Only Resorts). Rwanda is safe, clean, easily accessible and welcoming. Renowned publications like CNN Travel, Bloomberg, The Telegraph and The New York Times are singing its praises.
It’s a remarkable turnaround for one of Africa’s most captivating nations. And tourism has become an extremely valuable industry. In 2016 it was worth $400 million to the national economy, overtaking coffee as the most valuable foreign exchange earner. There was 30 per cent growth over a two year period and no signs of it slowing down. Around half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas live in Rwanda’s Virunga Mountains and are a huge drawcard for tourists. In fact, tourism is largely responsible for protecting these critically endangered creatures and was the driving force behind massive conservation efforts.
It was a similar story in the Eastern European nation of Georgia, which suffered through its own civil war in the early 1990s. The country is now a safe destination for tourists wanting to explore a little off the beaten track. With a beautiful coastline along the Black Sea, rugged mountains, ancient villages and a surprising wine industry (the country is actually the birthplace of modern viticulture), Georgia has much to offer the adventurous traveller.
Egypt’s problems are more recent, undergoing serious upheaval during the Arab Spring in 2011. Less than a decade later and the tourists are back – numbers doubled from 2016 to 2017 and Egypt is now one of the fastest growing destinations. Security is the state’s number one priority and major companies like Sanctuary Retreats and Abercrombie & Kent are once again operating tours and cruises.
These three countries are just some of the examples of destinations that have come back from the brink and reinvented themselves as tourism hot property.
Also part of the comeback story are hot destinations like Croatia and Cuba which continue to be highly desirable destinations in the luxury travel industry.
As one Europe’s hot spots Croatia, continues to see a growth in tourism as travellers are seeking experiences to explore the “less-travelled” destinations on the continent.
Cuba has flourished as a tourist destination and continues to be a highly sought-after destination and the demand for Cuba travel doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Tourism has become an extremely valuable industry and has subsequently converted into the most dynamic sector of the Cuban economy.
This also comes to show that tourism itself is an integral part of the recovery, bringing much needed money and infrastructure into the country, and creating positive press outside of it.
PC: Rwanda Development Board