Rwanda receives Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2021 ‘Wildlife Program’ award

WhatsApp Image 2020-11-17 at 15.38.04

Rwanda receives Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2021 ‘Wildlife Program’ award

LOS ANGELES (Nov. 17, 2020) – Global travel authority Lonely Planet has today unveiled a radical reimagining of its much-awaited Best in Travel picks for 2021, reflecting an unprecedented year of disruption in the travel industry. For the first time, this year’s list spotlights not only places, but also people and communities. In 2021, Lonely Planet is looking ahead to the important changes taking place globally, from sustainability to diversity, and shining a light on the future of travel. This year, Rwanda has been singled out as one of the destinations transforming the travel industry, specifically as a winner in the Sustainability category.

This year, the Best in Travel list has been refocused to showcase transformative travel, which encourages travelers to find authentic and mindful moments during their journeys. In 2021, Lonely Planet is looking at the important changes taking place globally and focusing on the individuals shaping the future of travel.

In Rwanda, sustainability and conservation is part of a national identity. The conversion of tourism and conservation could be traced back to 2005, when a tourism revenue share program was established to help benefit communities near Rwanda’s national parks. Sustainability efforts were further solidified as a top priority in the country with the ban of disposable plastic bags in 2008. Since these programs began, more than $5.5 million have been invested in more than 700 projects in communities adjacent to Volcanoes, Akagera and Nyungwe national parks. Half of these are infrastructural such as schools, health facilities, water harvesting facilities, housing, and road construction, among others, one third are in agriculture business (crop production and animal husbandry), and the rest support human-wildlife conflicts management.

“Travel is a much more considerate exercise in 2021 than it has been ever before,” Lonely Planet CEO Luis Cabrera said. “Best in Travel 2021 champions people, places and organizations that are making travel a force for good, all the more essential in a year when COVID-19 has disrupted and deprioritized travel. Best in Travel 2021 reflects how travel contributes to sustainability, community and inclusivity and showcases how we can best explore the world responsibly.”

Travel is always changing. Best in Travel 2021 champions people who make travel a force for good, all the more essential in a year when COVID-19 has disrupted and deprioritized travel. Best in Travel 2021 reflects how travel contributes to sustainability, community and inclusivity and ponders how we can best explore the world responsibly. Rather than delivering a destination bucket list, Lonely Planet focused on how people travel now: outdoors; in family groups; purposefully; with careful attention to the communities they will explore.

“Towards the end of what has been a very difficult year, being granted with this prestigious award is truly exciting for us,” said Belise Kariza, Chief Tourism Officer of the Rwanda Development Board. “The past few months have been trying for everyone, and the tourism industry in Rwanda and around the world has suffered greatly. However, we appreciate Lonely Planet’s acknowledgement of the hard work that’s been done across Rwanda’s tourism industry to make meaningful strides in sustainability. We know the tourism sector is resilient, and we will overcome these times as well – and will emerge even better and stronger than before. The Rwanda Development Board hopes our efforts to keep sustainability top-of-mind might create a ripple effect in wildlife, community and environmental tourism efforts around the world.”

After a tumultuous year for travel, Best in Travel also symbolizes Lonely Planet’s commitment to these values. “We are taking the chance to re-emphasize what we are here for and why: our mission remains to make travel a force for good,” said Cabrera.

Lonely Planet started the process for the 2021 Best in Travel list by seeking nominations from Lonely Planet’s vast community of staff, writers, photographers, videographers, bloggers, publishing partners and more. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and, like the rest of the travel world, Lonely Planet hit the pause button. But other things changed too. The conversation surrounding diversity took a decisive shift. The future of travel moved towards small-group engagement and decades-old issues like over tourism came back to the forefront. As a result, Lonely Planet’s picks fit this new approach and are tailored for travel in 2021 — a year that’s going to be like no other.

Reflecting the fast-changing nature of travel and tourism, Lonely Planet will release its companion features on travel themes for 2021 in January. “We expect the pace of change to continue through 2020,” said Cabrera. “So, we’re taking responsibility to be up-to-date with our guidance. We know travelers rely on Lonely Planet. In the new year, we’ll return with more essential suggestions for travel in 2021.”

The Best in Travel list is a two-way street in 2021, as well. In January, Lonely Planet will announce readers’ nominations of their own favorite people and places that are shaping the future of travel this year and beyond. Reader’s Choice voting begins today and can be found on the Best in Travel landing page.

For more information on the Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2021 list, go to Award destinations can also be explored with Lonely Planet’s Guides app for free and on social media channels via #BestInTravel.


About Lonely Planet:
Lonely Planet is a leading travel media company and the world’s number one travel guidebook brand, providing both inspiring and trustworthy information for every kind of traveler since 1973. Over the past four decades, we’ve printed over 145 million guidebooks and grown a dedicated, passionate global community of travelers. You’ll also find our content on, Guides app, video, guidebooks in 14 languages, children’s books, lifestyle books, e-books, and more. Visit us at or join our social community of over 14 million travelers. Find us on Facebook (, Twitter (@lonelyplanet), Instagram ( and Pinterest (

About VIsit Rwanda:

Visit Rwanda is the tourism-focused arm of the Rwanda Development Board, a government body responsible for fast-tracking Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Visit Rwanda has worked with local conservation, tourism, and development partners to generate tourism products that benefits not only inbound tourists, but also local communities and native flora and fauna. For more information on Visit Rwanda, visit, or find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

/ News & Press Release