Tourists’ preferences for ecotourism planning and development around Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda
Tourist destinations promote eco-tourism in achieving both nature conservation and income generation. To effectively provide services that facilitate achievement of those goals, decision-makers need to understand and incorporate tourists’ preferences for nature appreciation, infrastructure development and use restrictions in national parks. The lack of data on tourist’s preferences and the changing needs of tourists in Rwanda need to be well understood for ecotourism planning and development. This paper presents tourists’ preferences in relation to ecotourism planning and development in Nyungwe National Park, southwestern Rwanda. The aim of the study was to illustrate tourists’ preferences and their attitudes about ecotourism products within the park. Data used in this study were gathered using survey questionnaires that were distributed to both foreign and local tourists. GPS device was used to locate the attributes visited or planned to be visited by tourists, and the tourism products which need to be developed within and around the park. We then mapped these locations to visualize tourism attributes in order to guide decision makers in ecotourism planning and development in Rwanda. Results demonstrated that tourists were constrained by time and price to stay longer in the park. Tourists were satisfied with the guiding and service delivery. Tourists’ preferences were: revising the price; improved product quality; creation of scenic viewpoints; improved service quality; improved infrastructure and information on the park as well. The study found that the park managers need to reconsider tourist’s preferences while planning and developing ecotourism in Rwanda. Improving the way of disseminating information to tourists can be an added value to increase the number of tourists and revenues to the park. A study on consumers’ preferences is substantially beneficial to allow park managers to effectively respond to tourists’ needs and requirements.
Key words: Ecotourism, tourist’s preference, planning, Nyungwe, Rwanda