Travel and tourism slowly on the rise

Burundi has a great deal to offer tourists, including mountainous landscapes, natural parks, wildlife and access to one of Africa’s largest lakes. The country’s travel and tourism industry, however, remains undeveloped and only contributes marginally to the country’s GDP. Visitor numbers have only increased marginally since the peace agreement was set up in 2001 and many still consider the country too dangerous. In comparison with its neighbour Rwanda, a country with a similar sad history of ethnic violence, Burundi is still lingering on the starting blocks when it comes to attracting tourists.

Opportunities for ecotourism

Ecotourism is a niche area of travel and tourism in Burundi but has great potential to attract visitors. The national conservation areas, including Kibira National Park, Ruvubu and Lake Tanganyika, all offer unique natural habitats for wildlife. In addition, the country also holds a number of flourishing wildfowl lakes, such as the Rwihinda Lake Natural Reserve, which is a sanctuary for migratory, aquatic birds and has strong potential to attract many visitors. Plans by the government to boost nature-based tourism will help open up new tourist areas and, as a result, stimulate growth in tourism in Burundi.

Poor infrastructure hinders tourism sector
The infrastructure in Burundi remains poor and transportation and travel accommodation options for tourists are limited. Substantial improvements to infrastructure are planned, with funding coming from donors as well as public and private investment. Improvements to power supplies, transportation and communications facilities should all help with the future development of travel and tourism in Burundi. The 20-year infrastructure development plan that was put in place in 2010 by the Burundian government in conjunction with the African Development Bank has done little to improve the situation although the issue is becoming an increasingly important topic of discussion on the government’s agenda.