Rwanda guidelines for businesses reopening tourism activities during COVID-19
Sunrise in Kigali, Rwanda Photo by maxime niyomwungeri on Unsplash

Rwanda guidelines for businesses reopening tourism activities during COVID-19

Rwanda’s tourism industry is adapting to create a safe environment for travelers and operators, in order to thrive in these unprecedented times.

Rwanda recently announced the reopening of tourism activities as well as the resumption of international travel for charter flights, effective 17 June 2020. Rwanda has been under lock down since 21 March, as part of the measures to stop the spread of the pandemic with regulations that prevent people from leaving their homes unless it was for essential services.or business from operating.

Commenting on the reopening, Belise Kariza, the Chief Tourism Officer at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) said: “Rwanda’s tourism industry is adapting to create a safe environment for travelers and operators, in order to thrive in these unprecedented times. We encourage all travel enthusiasts and nature explorers to take advantage of this unique opportunity to venture out and experience the beauty and adventure that our country has to offer.”

Rwanda Reopening Guidelines

These guidelines apply to various types of tourism activities, operators and attractions including national parks, boat riding, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, birding, museums, culture and heritage sites. The guidelines will be updated as the COVID-19 situation evolves, and in conformity with measures from the Rwanda Ministry of Health.

Visit the Rwanda Development Board website for updated information.

Re-opening Timing

Tourism activities across the country will resume effective 17 June 2020.

Domestic Tourism Pricing

Promotional offers will be available until 31st December 2020 at all Rwanda National Parks:

Gorilla permits will be available at USD 200 for Rwandans & EAC nationals residing in Rwanda, USD 500 for foreign residents and USD 1,500 for international tourists coming with charter flights.

Special packages are available for groups, families and corporates on other products in Volcanoes and Nyungwe National Parks.

Specific precautionary measures are as follows:

  • Domestic tourists visiting Nyungwe and Volcanoes National Parks are required to test negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours prior to visiting these attractions. A private test center has been set up at Petit Stade, Amahoro National Stadium in Kigali, by appointment only. Other test centers outside Kigali will be communicated as demand grows.
  • All visitors travelling by charter flights are expected to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to arrival. Tourists will take a second COVID-19 test prior to visiting any tourist attraction.

General Requirements For Tourism Sectors Reopening.

All businesses must ensure a safe working environment for all staff and guests with the necessary health and safety measures at all times.

  • Masks: Ensure the correct use of masks for guests and staff at all times.
  • Hygiene and sanitation: Provide means to wash/sanitize hands frequently throughout the facility. Sanitize frequently touched public surfaces.
  • Physical distancing: Manage density of people within the tourist facility with physical distancing of at least 1 – 2 meters.
  • Communicate with employees and guests effectively on prevention, including the use of signage, notices and internal protocols.
  • Ensure temperature screening of all incoming guests and alert health authorities on toll-free number 114 in case of any anomaly.
  • Tourists are required to use cashless transaction methods such as payment by bank transfer in advance of the visit, mobile money, and debit/credit cards.
  • Only privately managed beaches should be open. Beach management should assign a permanent supervisor to monitor implementation of guidelines for COVID-19 prevention.
  • Ensure Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) physical distancing guidelines are respected including an unoccupied seat between each passenger in all tourist vehicles and boats.
  • Clean and disinfect tourist cars and boats before and after use. Keep 50% occupancy for effective physical distancing.
  • All staff operating in national parks and accommodation establishments located in touristic areas are expected to be tested every two weeks.
  • Meetings, workshops, seminars and events respecting 30% occupancy per meeting room/space are permitted. Meeting venues should mark the sitting arrangement to ensure physical distancing.
  • Live performances including karaoke of not more than 3 performers are permitted in hotels and restaurants, provided the MoH Covid-19 prevention guidelines are respected.

These guidelines will be implemented alongside other existing rules in National Parks and other attractions.

Specific Guidelines For International Visitors

Visitors travelling by charter flights (individual and groups) will be welcomed to the country. All visitors are expected to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to arrival.

Tourists will take a second Covid-19 test prior to visiting any tourist attraction. The following options are available:

  • Tourists can take the first Covid-19 RT-PCR (Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction) test in the country of origin at an ISO certified laboratory, 72 hours before departure and the second test will be taken upon arrival at Kigali International Airport. They are required to submit the results of the first test to the following address (lab@rbc.gov.rw) before departure and also upon arrival at Kigali International Airport.
  • They will be expected to wait 8 hours for results of the second test at designated hotels in Rwanda. This is applicable to direct flights only.

Tourists who are not able to test in their country of origin have the option to be tested twice in Rwanda: 

  • The first test will be taken upon arrival at Kigali International Airport while the second test will be taken 48 hours after arrival. Tourists will only be expected to visit tourist sites after two consecutive negative tests and will wait for their results at designated hotels.

An optional test may be provided on request at departure. The cost of the COVID-19 test will be included in tour packages.

While in the country, visitors and flight crew members are expected to abide by guidelines of the Health Ministry and specific guidelines for tourists’ attractions including National Parks.

For any emergency, question and/or feedback related to COVID -19, please call toll-free number 114.

Specific Guidelines For Domestic Tourists

Domestic tourists visiting Nyungwe and Volcanoes National Parks are required to test negative 48 hours prior to visiting these attractions. The results should be presented at the Parks’ reception.

A private test center has been set up at Petit Stade, Amahoro National Stadium. Testing will be done by appointment.

The cost of Covid-19 test for the domestic market (Rwandans and Foreign Residents) will be included in the parks’ permit prices.

Rwandans and Foreign Residents are encouraged to take advantage of discounted and diversified tourism packages including visiting various tourist attractions and staying in hotels at various tourism destinations in the country.

National Parks

In addition to general guidelines, the following recommendations apply to the national parks:

For Akagera National Park, vehicle tyres and tourist footwear must go through a disinfection bath at entrance. Tourists should carry hand sanitizers in their vehicles whilst visiting the park.

Other activities in Akagera National Park will also ensure physical distancing:

  • Boat trips: will accommodate a maximum of 6 (six) people and the guide
  • Night drives: only 1 (one) group will be permitted, with a maximum of 6 (six) people.
  • Day guided game drives: maximum of 6 (six) people per vehicle allowed.

Tourists are required to maintain a distance of at least 10 meters at all times while visiting primates in Nyungwe and Volcanoes National Park.

For gorilla visits, a group of 6 (six) tourists will be permitted for a maximum of 1 (one) hour for every visitation. For golden monkeys, a group of 12 (twelve) tourists will be permitted for a maximum of 1 (one) hour for every visitation. For chimpanzees, a group of 8 (eight) tourists will be permitted for a maximum of 1 (one) hour for every visitation.

Extension of the PAYE Waiver

Pay As You Earn (PAYE) will be waived until 31st December 2020 for employees operating in the tourism and hospitality sector earning up to Rwf 150,000 net salary.

These guidelines will be updated as new services/activities are re-opened and guided by the risk assessment by Ministry of Health (for more details about Covid-19 Government of Rwanda guidelines,