Rwanda: US embassy lifts travel ban to touristic sites

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By Robert Mugabe

Travel to northern parts of Rwanda and the Virunga Park for gorillas “is no longer restricted” for Americans, the US Embassy in Kigali has announced in a message to American nationals.

The late last month, embassy released a travel advisory urging Americans to avoid non-essential travel to areas bordering DRC – mainly Rubavu. The US embassy had wanted Americans to stay away from those areas following two negligible attacks by Rwandan FDLR rebels on Rwandan soil.

But in a December 06 statement, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) dismissed the concerns. “We would like to reassure visitors that it is business as usual at all our tourism destinations,” said Clare Akamanzi, acting CEO of RDB, in the statement.

Now, in a new development, the US Embassy says all is fine for its nationals to travel to any part of the country.

“The U.S. Embassy alerts U.S. citizens that travel by official U.S. citizen personnel to the Rubavu district, Volcanoes National Park, the town of Kinigi, or the area to the north and west of Kinigi that abuts Volcanoes National park is no longer restricted,” said the Embassy in a December 10 advisory.

“U.S. citizens are no longer advised to avoid the aforementioned areas.  There are currently no daytime travel restrictions in place for official U.S. citizens within Rwanda.”

Despite the conflict in eastern DRC that does not seem to go away for years, tourists have flocked to Rwanda year-in-year-out. The country received more than 680,000 visitors last year. A much bigger number is expected to be recorded by end of this year.

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