The Role of Tourism in Post-Conflict Peacebuilding in Rwanda

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In a post-conflict country, tourism has the potential to not only contribute to economic growth and physical reconstruction, but also to sustainable development, affirmative action and the protection of vulnerable groups. In Rwanda, the presence of rare mountain gorillas, rolling green hills and pristine lakes make it a very attractive tourism destination. However the perception of insecurity since the civil war and genocide in 1994 has been a strong deterrent for visitors. Nevertheless, the tourism industry became the country's highest foreign currency earner in 2007 by focusing on niche markets such as eco-, pro-poor and community-based tourism development. This paper seeks to analyze how tourism can also foster the ongoing peacebuilding process in post-conflict Rwanda. As few studies have examined this potential role of tourism, this paper positions itself within the broader discussion on corporate engagement in peace promotion. Specifically, it examines how current tourism activities in Rwanda contribute to two overarching dimensions of peacebuilding: reconciliation and justice; and socio-economic foundations.