Sunday, 15 April 2012

Rwanda is the First in Africa to Use Google to Map Its Tourism Facilities

Rwanda is now 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.

The development was announced by head of tourism and conservation at RDB after the board sealed the deal with Google. Google has partnered with the RDB to map the country's tourist attractions, as the travel industry has become that country's top foreign currency earner.

The initiative, Rwanda Tourism MapUp, uses Google Maps to locate attraction locations, and other services such as hotels, restaurants and banks. The development comes as the Internet grows as an important method of communication in the tourism industry. Google statistics show that, 62% of those in the US use search engines as their number one source for travel information.

In Rwanda, tourism is now considered the top foreign exchange earner. According to the World Bank, tourism accounted for 23% of total exports between 2005 to 2008, while coffee and tea were 11% and 8%, respectively.

The new MapUp is part of the drive towards making travel in Rwanda easier and more comfortable. Forty mappers, GUS experts, students and tourism operators are taking part in the scheme, which will be updated regularly as Rwanda's tourism infrastructure grows. Aside from attractions, hotels, restaurants and banks, road networks, forex bureaus and shopping centres will also be mapped. MapUp uses the standard Google Maps application, which offers maps, route planners and service locators. All national parks and lakes are being mapped, as well as the Congo Nile Trail, Nyungwe Forest and key islands, trails and attractions.

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