Numbers of American tourists to Rwanda have grown by 114% year on year, according to the latest data from international travel agency network, Virtuoso, placing it among the top 10 countries that have experienced significant percentage increases in bookings among American travellers.

Leading the growth was Uruguay, which saw a 286% increase in bookings, followed by the Maldives, up 171%; Malta 140%; Romania 135%; Egypt 122%; Puerto Rico 120%; Qatar 101%; South Korea 98%; and Norway 96%.

Virtuoso’s findings are from an analysis of data from over 1 000 travel agency partners and 20 000 elite travel advisers across North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East.

It noted that “American tourists are increasingly characterized by aspects such as interest in exploring new destinations, seeking fresh adventures, pleasant climate, less-explored cuisines and retreats for relaxation-focused travellers”.

The development comes at a time when Rwanda has been rolling out multiple efforts to grow tourism receipts, including creating a diversity of wildlife in local parks with the addition of rhinos and lions.

The tourism sector is also working toward the low-density, high-value kind of tourism due to the returns it promises.

Rwanda Development Board has also said it is working on devising ways to diversify the country’s tourism, to make the most of cultural, religious and other attractions.

The board recently announced a 20-year agreement with Vivendi Group, a French mass-media company, for the development and occupancy of the Kigali Cultural Village.

Covering 30.1 hectares, the US$40m project will showcase Rwanda’s traditional and contemporary arts, nature, biodiversity, traditional lifestyle and history.