Tourism feels the heat of Omicron

Monday January 03 2022

Tourists visiting national parks in Rwanda are exempt from a three-day quarantine imposed by the government. PHOTO | FILE

By Ange Iliza

Rwandan tourism operators are counting losses following the reinstatement of Covid-19 measures as infection numbers rise. 

There were hopes of the sector recovering with the festivities but the new strict measures reinstated to contain the new Omicron variant have sent operators back to the drawing board.

Since late November when the new variant was announced and countries, including Rwanda, started imposing stringent preventive measures to travellers, tourism players say more than 90 percent of their bookings have been cancelled, leading to losses.

“We have been heavily impacted. We tried to communicate to our clients that there is an exemption for some tourists but they expressed concerns that traveling this season is costly and risky,” said James Kamugisha, founder of James Tour Operator.

Three-day quarantine

Currently, all arriving passengers are subjected to a three-day quarantine at their own cost, and PCR tests on the third and seventh day, in addition to multiple rapid tests.


“The new guidelines have made it too costly and restrictive to some clients,” said Orest Ntirenganya who works at Hermosa Life Tours and Travel Rwanda.

The Rwanda Development Board has exempted tourists visiting national parks from the three days quarantine. The exemption does not apply to mountain gorilla visitors.

Rwanda recently slashed the cost of a PCR Covid-19 test from $45 to $29 during the festive season to facilitate regular checks. A rapid test costs $5 and gives results in 15 minutes.

All hotels, bars, swimming pools and restaurants require proof of vaccination for two doses in addition to a negative Covid-19 test taken with 24 hours.