The Rwanda Development Board has postponed “Kwita Izina,” the famed gorilla naming ceremony to September.
The move, however, is expected to lead to a financial loss to private tour operators who had booked tourists for the event.
The 11th and annual tourism event has been postponed by government on short notice and the reason remains unknown.
The event, which is usually held between late June and early July attracts international tourist and celebrities with an aim of marketing the country’s tourism potential.
The event is the biggest tourism event on Rwanda’s calendar year and many operators and stakeholders always make a kill from international visitors.
The event was earlier slated for June, which was timely for international tourists seeking destinations for summer holiday.
Now that the event has been postponed towards the end of the summer holidays, operators are wary that tourism revenues will be less as many of their clients are likely to abandon the plans altogether.
“The relationship with our clients is likely to be compromised because it’s like we promised them a product at a given time and it is not available even after they had saved for this trip,” said Darius Nuwagaba, chief executive of Kings Tours and Travel Company.
“We have invested our time, energy and resources for this event as well as informing our clients and when it is shifted for another date, they might change their mind,” added Mr Nuwgaba.
However, efforts to reach RDB for a comment about the postponement proved futile by Press time.
According to RDB, a government body that organises the annual celebration, it is aimed at recognising the efforts of all the stakeholders who have contributed to the sustainable regional and national conservation of the mountain gorilla and other wildlife in general.
Tourism is Rwanda’s number one foreign exchange earner with over $200 million annually and gorilla is the leading tourism product that Rwanda offers.
The postponement could also affect the hotel industry where many rooms could remain empty in case there was a reduction in visitors.
“Our cash flow will definitely be hurt because most of our plans for the period of June and July depended on this event,” said Albert Muragijimana of Wilson Tours and Travel Company.
He also said RDB is yet to inform the private operators the reasons for rescheduling the event to September.