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The attitude and perception of local and international tourists regarding the protection of the genocide memorial sites in Rwanda
Rwanda is a low income, landlocked and heavily populated country in Sub-Sahara Africa. Regardless of its majestic landscape, rich history and culture, it is not a country that is recognized as a tourism destination. Instead, Rwanda has become known for the genocide that took place in 1994 when over one million people were killed in within a hundred day period while the rest of the world watched in silence. Since then, Rwanda has been trying to uplift its image and economy. However, unlike other African countries, Rwanda does not have mineral resources and has to focus on improving its tourism to attract more people and thereby more funds into the country. Developing tourism can play a major role in reducing the poverty level, creating employment as well as contributing to the country’s revenue. So far Rwanda has strongly relied on its famous mountain gorillas to attract tourists which can be an expensive exercise for tourists in Rwanda. By creating a more diversified number of attractions, the number of tourists to the country should increase thereby injecting much needed capital into the economy. After the 1994 genocide, Rwanda inherited several genocide sites that have been preserved by government to remind people of the massacre that took place. Even though these sites are not used for tourism gain, they are acquiring popularity as tourists to Rwanda become aware of them and the history applicable thereto. This study has been undertaken to find ways to conserve, protect and market the genocide memorial sites as tourism destinations. It is important that these heritage museums be acknowledged through the World Heritage Organisation as authentic and educational facilities for future generations to enjoy. The research project was conducted in the Kigali and Bugesera areas. A sample of three hundred and sixty (360) questionnaires was given out to participants, and a total of a hundred and fifty-seven (157) were returned, coded and analysed. Data analysis applying descriptive statistics was utilised to acquire the frequencies, which were conveyed in percentages. The study disclosed that generally tourists were impressed by the genocide memorial sites and felt that it would be of great use to protect and market them as tourism assets as they believe that many people will learn from the harsh historical event that took place in Rwanda. This investigative study could strongly benefit Rwanda in planning and deciding on an appropriate tourism marketing strategy for the genocide memorial site. The Rwandan Government, policy makers and tourism stakeholders have a lot to gain by addressing the issues that are slowing down the tourism industry. It is anticipated that when these barriers have been removed, it will add toward sustainable tourism development in Rwanda.