Saturday, 24 March 2012

Rwanda Development Board, Google Partner to Map Tourism Sites

Rwanda Development Board (RDB) in partnership with Google, yesterday, commenced the mapping exercise where all tourism attractions in the country will feature on the web. The two-day event dubbed, Rwanda Tourism MapUp, started with the team's road trip from Kigali where key touristic features were mapped and continued to Musanze and Rubavu districts whose attractions were also added to the Google map list. Google Map is a web mapping service application and technology provided by Google; it offers street maps, a route planner for travellers and an urban business locator for numerous countries around the world.

Speaking at the official launch of the exercise, yesterday, the Head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB, said that the initiative is part of the government's strategy to enable the world know all touristic areas in the country. "We are proud to be the first African country to work with google, citizen mappers and tourism operators to systematically map all tourism facilities and attractions to increase discoverability through search engines." "Today, more tourism destinations are chosen through online searches and recommendations by other travellers and this presents a great opportunity for our country to earn revenues from tourists who will be visiting the sites". the technology will boost the tourism industry as many tourists will be able to easily identify Rwanda touristic features on google search engine and consequently come to visit areas of interest.

During the exercise, all the national parks, lakes, Congo Nile Trail and key locations and attractions, islands and trails, villages and towns, restaurants, bars and hotels among others will be cartographed allowing visitors to Rwanda to get a Google Map location of them. About 40 participants, including professional mappers, Geographic Information System (GIS) experts, university students as well as tourism operators are involved in mapping all the major tourism features. According to RDB, the exercise will be held regularly so as to preserve the accuracy of the maps.

Tourist attractions in Rwanda include Mountain Gorillas, Nyungwe forest canopy walk, national museums, Lake Kivu, bird watching, national parks, Congo Nile Trail and culture, among others. It's estimated that around 70 per cent of travel decisions are made using websites to research information and google map is a major source. Google Mapper, Gilbert Mucyo, said that so far they have mapped over 100 tourism features on google map. "One of the outcomes of this exercise is to enable people easily access Rwanda touristic destinations on Google search engine," he noted. "We hope to complete mapping all the features in the next few months".

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