Carmen Nibigira 2015

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BURUNDITOURISM MARCHING INTO 2015 & BEYOND


LOOKING TO THE FUTURE


MARCHING FORWARD 2014 was a year when the tourism sector in Burundi was given an opportunity to launch new ideas, and those who believed in the tourism industry, whether directly or indirectly, started planting seeds through investments, product development and human capital. It is difficult to pinpoint all that was done because some of the biggest highlights and achievements to celebrate in 2014 came from such a wide variety of spheres, it is difficult to select the ones which made this year in just a few pages. I have chosen just few key moments, which set new directions for the future of tourism in Burundi for years to come.

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The drummers of Burundi were registered this November on the Intangible Heritage of Humanity list by UNESCO. The ritual dance of the royal drum show combines the sound of beating drums to dance, heroic poetry and traditional songs. It is unique to our country and is one of our tourism signatures. Drummers in Burundi are recognized as a fundamental part of our shared and treasured heritage, culture and identity. This UNESCO title gives to Beautiful Burundi worldwide recognition of our unique culture and raises our sense of pride that should prevail across all corners of the country. This is the beginning of hopefully many items to be presented on the World Heritage list as Burundi has many historical, natural and cultural sites, and activities of note. As Leonce Ngabo, one of the greatest cultural ambassadors of Burundi’s heritage and culture, said in his November interview to RFI (Radio France International, 27th November, 2014), “This act goes beyond just a worldwide recognition. It is about rallying the population of Burundi to be more engaged in protecting their heritage and aware of their unique wealth.�

The drummers of Burundi were registered this November on the Intangible Heritage of Humanity list by UNESCO.


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Also in 2014 we inventoried the wide variety of historical, cultural and natural sites for tourism promotion around the country. The work was done by a group of national tourism officials, historians, world tourism organization experts and other consultants. More than 120 tourism sites were recorded for the first time in the history of Burundi.All sites are now fully described, and their current states evaluated on. There should be an adequate demarcation of them for their conservation and preservation. Forty-four sites fall under the category of natural sites and twenty six under cultural and other are immaterial heritage (drummers, gastronomy and scenery), while the rest are events, festivals and groups of human interest such as specifics tribes and rituals).

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More than 120 tourism sites were recorded for the ďŹ rst time in the history of Burundi

A list of top ten tourism sites was made and this will be on the top of the agenda of tourism products to be developed in the future. It is a major step in our country for conservation and heritage of tourism sites to be given priority for future generations. The year of 2014 was also a time whereby the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, individuals and various governmental agencies consolidated their efforts and worked together to develop the tourism sector in Burundi. The government revamped the National Tourism Office and named it a full fledged “Direction Generale� in charge of developing the tourism sector with full power to make strategic decisions. The National Tourism Commission was put into place as a platform for the private sector and the government to exchange, discuss, and plan the future of the tourism sector in Burundi. From a policy making and business standpoint, the tourism is and will remain a sector where partnerships and collaboration are required.


WIDE OPEN SPACES IN BURUNDI


LUSH LANDSCAPES


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On a personal note, I would like to salute the efforts and the hard work of the private sector, especially to those who continue to invest, innovate and believe in tourism. This faith in the tourism sector is necessary to continue to see opportunities and beauty in my Beautiful Burundi. 2014 was full of colors, new talents and sounds. The automobile rally, organized by Black and White Events in partnership with Burundi Automobile Club, is back after almost two decades of absence. Festicab (Burundian Film Festival), with Leonce Ngabo always pushing for the film industry, this year celebrated its sixth edition, and now Burundi is a key partner in the East African Community (EAC) film industry. The Fashion industry is also growing with new and young designers making Bujumbura the capital of fashion and events and making “Made in Burundi” their trademark even beyond our national borders. Without forgetting the music industry from Primusic, arts and dance, the list is endless, This was a year for many events whether in Buja, the capital of Beautiful Burundi or around the country, and it gives me hope that the sector is making its grand march forward.

On a personal note, I would like to salute the efforts and the hard work of the private sector, especially to those who continue to invest, innovate and believe in tourism.

It is worth recognizing those who continue to support the sector because they believe in its growth, opportunities and possibilities. To name a few,great gratitude goes to: Old East, Groupe Ladak, Clinique de l’ Oeil, Buja Café, Ecobank, Service Mag, and those key partners who are in the industry such as Roca Golf Hotel, Hotel Belair, Hotel Club Du Lac Tanganyika, Star Hotel and those not listed here who made 2014 a year for tourism development possible. Without you, the tourism industry in 2014 would have not made those key steps forward. Your continued support, were important to this essential sector,


and you will be needed again. What is on the horizon for 2015 is the tourism sector will continue to grow, and this year should be a year of strengthening its foundation. Un clein d’oeil is specially given to those who invested in this sector. This year should be a time to tackle the crisis we are facing of “poor customer service” in Burundi. We have to look at ourselves and say that we are failing in this regard So far, little has been done and the challenge ahead is daunting. Invest in your people, train them, value them and most important remember they are the ones you need to make or break your business. They are at forefront of this sector! Tourism product development should also be our priority, so we add value to what we already have and make our country a tourism destination where we will be visited for more than the experience on Lake Tanganyika, events and gastronomy etc… We need to innovate and go beyond. This is the time!

What is on the horizon for 2015 is the tourism sector will continue to grow, and this year should be a year of strengthening its foundation.

2015 is a year for protection and conservation of our protected areas, parks and natural reserves. We need to be vigilant and stewards of our country. If our natural assets are lost, we will lose the the heart and soul of our tourism assets. Our role is to advocate for sound environmental policies, support communities around parks through job creations, education and involve ourselves and our children in our civic obligations, to protect our country. It is not about chimpanzees in Kibira National Park, birds in Kirundo, hippos in Rusizi Reserve or antelopes and buffalos in Ruvubu National Park; this is about the whole ecosystem requiring conservation for our common good. We are all invested in making Burundi a tourism destination. !


TOURISM & INVESTMENTS BLOSSOMS


LOOKING INTO A BRIGHT FUTURE


I would like to take this opportunity to call our neighbours in the EAC to look at Burundi as a strategic partner in tourism. We have more to offer and also more to learn from you. While there is a gap in this sector in Burundi, it should be seen as a challenge and will be overcome. Take Burundi as an opportunity for your growth and for new markets; we are your partners, and this year is ours together. This is a year for tourism products and skills’ developments for sustainable tourism in Burundi and in the region. Let’s welcome together 2015 as a year of collaboration and tourism development. Happy New Year. Vive le tourisme!

Carmen Nibigira


Carmen Nibigira