Tourism is one of the largest economic sectors that contribute immensely to the economic development of Rwanda. It is highly considered as an important means of generating revenues for country and contributing to poverty reduction.
The interface between climate and tourism is multifaceted and complex, with broad significance for tourist decision-making and expenditures, as well as industry marketing and operations worldwide. With the close relationship of tourism to the environment and climate, the integrated effects of climate change are anticipated to markedly affect tourism businesses and destinations, as well as the destination choices and mobility of individual tourists in the decades ahead. As recent major natural, political, and economic shocks have demonstrated, the tourism sector has relatively high adaptive capacity. Improved climate services will be vital for travelers and tourism businesses and destinations to adapt to climate change and variability in an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable manner. The discussion below highlights the linkage between weather and climate information and the tourism sector.
The potential use of climate information into tourism sector is tremendous given the high number and diversity of end-users. The full temporal scale of weather and climate information, from nowcasting (up to 1h), to short, medium and long-range forecasts (1day and 7–10 days, monthly and seasonal), to multi-decadal climate-change projections, is being utilized in a wide range of decision-making by tourism operators and planners.
Historical Climate information: Historical climate information for a certain location (mostly called climate of that area) is defined as the prevailing condition observed as a long-term average and other related statistics in that location. It can be used for strategic planning of tourism activities including appropriate infrastructure, destination location analysis for new resorts, seasonal tourism business, the location of animal species according to the season. Historical climate information of isolated or remote area such as top of mountains is necessary mostly because the behavior is different from other places. Tourists need to choose the best time for hiking such mountains, transportation access, coastal access and other recreative activities. Tourism operators and organizations that promote tourism to specific destinations typically utilize historical climate information for two purposes: (1) marketing the destination and (2) assisting travelers to prepare for a safe and comfortable travel experience. Reviews of the advertising of destinations have consistently found that climate is used positively in virtually all forms of marketing and destination image creation.
Meteo Rwanda made all that information available and accessible to tourism planners and tourists for easy and effective operation. The information is accessible on Meteo Rwanda website http://maproom.meteorwanda.gov.rw/maproom/Climatology/index.html includes climate analysis and monitoring. Climate analysis provide historical climate information at a scale of 4km including months with higher/less rainfall or temperature within the year, the information of rainfall and temperature on ten days basis (dekad), seasonal trend analysis and extremes. The availed information is used by tourism sector to advertise different destinations which is very vital information to tourists during tourism planning, the choice of destination and travelling time.
Observation and weather forecasts: climate is considered as the weather conditions observed as a long-term average for more than 30 years in a certain location, on contrast, and weather is the manifestation of climate at a specific point at a time and place. So, while tourists might expect certain climatic conditions when they travel to a place, they will experience the actual weather, which might deviate quite substantially from the average conditions. Hence, in the first place tourists and tourism businesses are likely to be affected by weather conditions. For example, surface and sea temperatures are generally forecasted to increase, seasonal rain patterns which would change with some areas becoming wetter and others driers, and the occurrence of extreme events is likely to increase. This is the reason, tourist destinations will benefit from understanding potential climatic changes in their area and how they might impact on their operations. Tourists need weather forecast of destination locations during the planning of the trip for decision support tools and to maximize their operations in planned time. Real-time observations and near-term weather forecasts are also used extensively by tourism operators and organizations for marketing purposes. Tourism operators provide current observations and short-term forecasts to promote their location or event to tourists. Other innovative marketing strategies that utilize forecast information to tailor marketing messages or target certain markets.
Meteo Rwanda is generating seasonal and monthly weather forecasts for general public and specific sectors which can be used to prepare different destinations by tourism operators. Apart from monthly and seasonal forecasts, Meteo Rwanda is producing and availing short and medium range forecast (daily, five day, seven day and ten days forecasts) which are very extremely important for supporting tourists trip decision making tools and operations but also tourism operators by advertising (planning) their destination locations according to prevail weather conditions. Real time observation and nowcasting with high technology weather radar products are provided on real time to all tourism destination in Rwanda.
Weather and climate have broad significance to tourist decision-making and the vacation experience. The different types of climate information (historical, forecasts, nowcasts and real time data) play a vital role on tourist decision-making, from the trip planning to the travel phase and the destination itself. Consideration of current weather conditions or near-term forecasts (the next 1 to 5 days) has been found to be the most important factor in ‘last-minute’ domestic leisure tourism. However, the knowledge about the process of how tourism operators and end users integrate weather and climate information into specific decisions remains very limited.
Key knowledge and understanding remains very vital in the decisiveness of weather and climate information as a factor in decision making and when end-users require climate information in different decision-making processes. Meteo Rwanda found a new opportunity to promote weather and climate information tailored to tourism and its destination location together with tourism operators to increase the country income generated in tourism sector.