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Wed 31 Dec 2008 12:46 PM

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Dubai set to boost Rwandan tourist industry

Dubai World sinks $230mn into budding industry in former civil war-torn African nation.

Dubai is set to play a leading role in Rwanda's budding tourism sector which is estimated to grow to a $224 million industry in 2009.

Tourism visitors to the tiny central African republic, famous for its gorilla tracking projects, will increase to 1.14 million, the Rwanda Development Board said.

Rosette Chantal Rugamba, deputy CEO, said the industry would continue to flourish in 2009 with the opening of nine new hotels and lodges across Rwanda.

Five of the new hotels are owned by Dubai World. The state-owned investment fund has sunk $230 million into accommodation in Rwanda.

"We were projecting that by 2012, tourism will be generating 5.6 percent (of GDP) but we think that already at the end of this year, it will be at five percent."

Rugamba said the coffee-growing country hopes to encourage tourists to stay longer by introducing other attractions beyond the gorilla experience.

In the past, a lack of accommodation stunted Nyungwe's popularity but Dubai World expects to open a 25-room lodge in the park by August.

The park also received a $5.5 million grant from the United States to build a series of elevated canopy walkways and jungle swings.

Rwanda is credited with rapid growth since the 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Rwanda was voted among the "Top 10 countries to visit in 2009" by the Lonely Planet travel guide.

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