Rwanda receives Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2021 ‘Wildlife Program’ award7 December 2020
Global travel authority Lonely Planet has today unveiled a radical reimagining of its much-awaited Best in Travel picks for 2021, reflecting an unprecedented year of disruption in the travel industry. For the first time, this year’s list spotlights not only places, but also people and communities. This year, Rwanda has been singled out as one of the destinations transforming the travel industry, specifically as a winner in the Sustainability category.
This year, the Best in Travel list has been refocused to showcase transformative travel, which encourages travelers to find authentic and mindful moments during their journeys. In 2021, Lonely Planet is looking at the important changes taking place globally and focusing on the individuals shaping the future of travel.
In Rwanda, sustainability and conservation is part of a national identity. The conversion of tourism and conservation could be traced back to 2005, when a tourism revenue share program was established to help benefit communities near Rwanda’s national parks. Sustainability efforts were further solidified as a top priority in the country with the ban of disposable plastic bags in 2008. Since these programs began, more than $5.5 million have been invested in more than 700 projects in communities adjacent to Volcanoes, Akagera and Nyungwe national parks. Half of these are infrastructural such as schools, health facilities, water harvesting facilities, housing, and road construction, among others, one third are in agriculture business (crop production and animal husbandry), and the rest support human-wildlife conflicts management.
“Travel is a much more considerate exercise in 2021 than it has been ever before,” Lonely Planet CEO Luis Cabrera said. “Best in Travel 2021 champions people, places and organizations that are making travel a force for good, all the more essential in a year when COVID-19 has disrupted and deprioritized travel. Best in Travel 2021 reflects how travel contributes to sustainability, community and inclusivity and showcases how we can best explore the world responsibly.”
Travel is always changing. Best in Travel 2021 champions people who make travel a force for good, all the more essential in a year when COVID-19 has disrupted and deprioritized travel. Best in Travel 2021 reflects how travel contributes to sustainability, community and inclusivity and ponders how we can best explore the world responsibly. Rather than delivering a destination bucket list, Lonely Planet focused on how people travel now: outdoors; in family groups; purposefully; with careful attention to the communities they will explore.
“Towards the end of what has been a very difficult year, being granted with this prestigious award is truly exciting for us,” said Belise Kariza, Chief Tourism Officer of the Rwanda Development Board. “The past few months have been trying for everyone, and the tourism industry in Rwanda and around the world has suffered greatly. However, we appreciate Lonely Planet’s acknowledgement of the hard work that’s been done across Rwanda’s tourism industry to make meaningful strides in sustainability. We know the tourism sector is resilient, and we will overcome these times as well – and will emerge even better and stronger than before. The Rwanda Development Board hopes our efforts to keep sustainability top-of-mind might create a ripple effect in wildlife, community and environmental tourism efforts around the world.”