The Uganda – Rwanda Border Closure -the Impact on Tourists

Posted by on April 24, 2019

How the March 2019 Temporary Rwanda-Uganda Border Closure affects Tourists

Uganda – Rwanda Border Closure hurts the Tourism Image of both Countries

The Uganda – Rwanda Border Closure – The Impact on Tourism. The March 2019 Closure of the Rwandan – Ugandan Border damages the image of both countries and is counterproductive to both countries proclaiming themselves as a safe, secure and stable Destination for African Travelers, Tourists on Safari, and Visitors to both Countries.

We are not politicians but Tour Operators that have freely crossed the border between Uganda and Rwanda shuttling Tourists on Safari with us to destinations on both sides of the border. We are not one of those that is pointing the finger but are asking for timely resolution of the Differences that Uganda and Rwanda have with each other.  

Though Tourists have not been directly affected by the border closure we find news of the border closure between Rwanda and Uganda as being detrimental to the aim of both countries where Tourism is the Bread and Butter of both countries Economy which in turn employs thousands in meaningful jobs in both countries.

When a potential Visitor to Uganda or Rwanda reads such news in their country they simply take Rwanda and Uganda are off of their Bucket List and file it under future travel possibilities.

Safety and Security in Rwanda and Uganda are of concern to Tourists.  We know that judging by how many visitors to our Website view pages such as “Are Americans or anyone safe in Uganda or Rwanda.”  Though they are safe, it is a matter of image, of perception, or interpretation, of painting all of Africa with one brush, unstable which is contrary to the reality in both Uganda and Rwanda.

The Uganda – Rwanda Border Closure comes at a time when potential visitors to both or either country are making  their travel plans, booking a safari with a tour company such as ourselves.  News of the border between the two countries will only defer such plans to the distant future.

Tour Operators from both Rwanda and Uganda daily cross the border and head for Tourist Destinations in both countries and the Uganda – Rwanda Border Closure sends a message that such movements are not possible, something that is not true, but Tourism is all about image and perception and it is image as  welcoming nations and Tourist Friendly Countries that have been hurt the most.

The Uganda – Rwanda Border Closure is counterproductive to the promotional Tourism plans of both countries no matter if the  Arsenal Football Team has Visit Rwanda on its shirt or Kin Kardashian and Kanye West gush about how wonderful Uganda.  All those things including Ellen Degeneres stating on her American Talkshow as to how wonderful Rwanda is to visit.  All it takes is one picture of a closed border in the international media and travel plans to the heart of Africa, Uganda or Rwanda dissipate into nothingness.

Presently, the Uganda – Rwanda Border Closure hurts Commerce including Tourism.  Rwanda has advised its Citizens not to visit Uganda at the present suggesting that Uganda is dangerous for visitors.  Tourists in March of 2019 are welcomed daily to a safe, stable and secure Uganda.

A Tour Guide reports that there was no problem crossing two different border points except that the mood of Border Staff was somber. Tourism Vehicles are clearly marked as such and receive extra care.

 Uganda – Rwanda Border Closure – We are Tour Operators, not politicians but we do know the impact that the Border closure has and can have on both Countries.  We know that their talks and discussions at the highest levels about the Border closure, however, one might suggest resolving the issue at hand in a timely manner without delay.

President Kagame of Rwanda and President Museveni of Uganda are both men of faith, may the words of Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together” become a reality as the two cattle ranchers sit down on one of their cattle ranches, once again enjoy some homemade Yogurt and discuss what the two countries have in common  and deal with the differences that are causing the present Border Row.

This is not a time for provocation which only leads to isolation but for open communication between the two countries for the common good of both countries and the East African Union to which they both belong. 

 France issues a Rwanda Travel Advisory:

When Political Leaders make choices the result most often are consequences which can be costly as the new Travel Advisory where  France has warned its citizens to avoid borders between Rwanda and Uganda. The French Foreign Affairs ministry issued the travel advisory on April 18, 2019 warning of security risks for those who want to enter or stay in Rwanda. One such place to avoid is Volcanoes National Park where the Gorilla Trekking takes place in Rwanda.

Volcanoes National Park lies in northwestern Rwanda and borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.“Given the risk of incident, it is not recommended to go to the Volcanoes National Park,” the advisory said.

The other place is border posts with Uganda. “Due to current tensions between Rwanda and Uganda and the risk of blocking the land border, it is inadvisable to travel by road between these two countries.”

We happen to disagree – the border has remained open to Tourists coming from either side of the border including this week. There is a border row for well over a month, something two men at the helm of Rwanda and Uganda, who fought together in the Bush in Uganda, and President Kagame was a high ranking Military Intelligence Officer in the Ugandan Army before the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi people.

Nyunge Forest National Park – a vast Afro-Montane Forest that spills over into Burundi

 France also advises avoiding the border with Burundi especially Nyungwe Forest National Park

“Following recent incidents in and around the Nyungwe Forest, it is not advisable to trek through the Nyungwe Forest and drive through the forest through National Road 6 to or from Nyamagabe. The so-called National Liberation Force (NLF) has on several occasions entered the forest, claimed to be training there and caused havoc in some nearby villages.

NLF is a military wing of Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (RMDC) led by  Paul Rusesabagina whose claim to fame was the Hollywood in part fictional account of his role as assistant manager of Hotel des Mille Collines, Hotel Rwanda.  He now lives in comfort in the USA but has an adversarial relationship with the Rwandan government.  Rwanda has put its best troops into the park monitoring the Border with Burundi.

Rwanda previously announced that the area was safe for Tourists and there have been no incidents involving Tourists and the Rebels have not been reported operating in the Forest.