ICTP (International Council of Tourism Partners) President Geoffrey Lipman's eyewitness report: "This weekend I had the opportunity, thanks to Rwanda, a founder member of the ICTP, to enjoy one of the tourism opportunities of a lifetime.
I went to Kigali to take part in the annual gorilla naming ceremony - Kwita Izina, along with 20,000 local people, including the Prime Minister, and 20 invited guests, who each got to name a young gorilla in a joyful celebration of wildlife, tourism, and conservation. But it was more than that, it was a moving demonstration of national pride, and as such, it was a testament to Rwanda itself and the incredible path of nation building and trade development that President Kagame has undertaken, in which tourism has a central role to play, with the magnificent gorilla as a global icon.
"It was a briliantly-organized event in the foothills close to where the gorilla families roam, and was presided over by Rica Rwigamba, the dynamic head of Rwanda's Development Board (RDB). Namers included conservation champions from as far afield as Japan; the head of Google Africa; regional tourism leaders; and a crowd-pleasing, 7-year-old who had won the honor in a gorilla-drawing competition for local schoolkids.
"Dressed in local costume, I had the honor of the last "naming" and the opportunity to address the crowd on behalf of the guests and the friends of conservation and tourism around the world. My gorilla, or should I say, ICTP's gorilla, is a young 12-month-old male called Ijabo, which means "dignity" in the Rwanda language and is very symbolic of the rebirth of Rwanda itself and of the ways in which its proud people are handling their tourism, conservation, and international positioning. Symbolically, Ijabo had very nearly died at birth, but had been saved by the brilliance of the veterinarians and is now leading a happy and healthy life.
"Another symbolic reference I touched on, was the fact that my journey had started in China, which will be a driver of global tourism and African economic development - it would end in Brazil for the Rio+20 Earth summit to launch a new book, Green Growth & Travelism: Letters from Leaders, showing ways in which our sector can help in the transformation to a more sustainable, sharing, and caring world. The stop in Rwanda for the Kwita Izina was a perfect link between the journey's starting and finishing point.
"It was one of the most moving things I have ever done, and I would urge anyone looking for a special tourism experience to visit Rwanda and its magnificent gorillas. I will certainly be returning to look for Ijabo as he grows and prospers."
Rwanda is an Academy and founding member of the International Council of Tourism Partners.
Rwanda is the only country in the Âgorilla triangleÂ of the Virunga mountains, which it shares with Uganda and Congo DR, to dedicate an entirel festival to the primates, and while gorillas in Uganda are also named by the wardens and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) staff, only in Rwanda has the naming been turned into an annual celebration of conservation.
The International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP) is a new grassroots travel and tourism coalition of global destinations committed to quality service and green growth. The ICTP logo represents the strength in collaboration (the block) of many small communities (the lines) committed to sustainable oceans (blue) and land (green).
ICTP engages communities and their stakeholders to share quality and green opportunities including tools and resources, access to funding, education, and marketing support. ICTP advocates sustainable aviation growth, streamlined travel formalities, and fair coherent taxation.
ICTP supports the UN Millennium Development Goals, the UN World Tourism Organization's Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, and a range of programs that underpin them. The ICTP alliance is represented in Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA; Brussels, Belgium; Bali, Indonesia; and Victoria, Seychelles. ICTP membership is available to qualified destinations free of charge. Academy membership features a prestigious and selected group of destinations.
ICTP has members in Anguilla; Aruba; Bangladesh; Belgium, Canada; China; Croatia; Ghana; Greece; Grenada; The Gambia, India; Indonesia; Iran; La Reunion (French Indian Ocean); Malaysia; Malawi; Mauritius; Mexico; Morocco; Nicaragua; Nigeria; Northern Mariana Islands, US Pacific Island Territory; Pakistan; Palestine; Rwanda; Seychelles; Sierra Leone; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Sultanate of Oman; Tajikistan; Tanzania; Yemen; Zimbabwe; and from the US: Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Missouri, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.
Partner associations include: African Bureau of Conventions; African Chamber of Commerce Dallas/Fort Worth; Africa Travel Association; Alliance for training and research in the field of social and solidarity tourism (ISTO/OITS); Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association; Cultural and Environment Conservation Society; DC-Cam (Cambodia); Hawaii Tourism Association; Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management; International Hospitality and Tourism Research Centre(IHTRC); International Institute for Peace Through Tourism (IIPT); International Organization of Electronic Tourism Industry (IOETI); Livingstone International University of Tourism Excellence, Zambia; Positive Impact Events, Manchester, UK; RETOSA : Angola- Botswana - DR Congo - Lesotho - Madagascar - Malawi - Mauritius - Mozambique - Namibia - South Africa - Swaziland - Tanzania - Zambia- Zimbabwe; Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade, China; SKAL International; Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (SATH); Sustainable Travel International (STI); The Region Initiative, Pakistan; University of Florida: Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute; University of Hawaii; University of Technology Mauritius; and vzw Reis-en Opleidingscentrum, Gent, Belgium; and University of Technology Mauritius.
For more information, go to: www.tourismpartners.org .