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Tourist hotspots in Rwanda are currently temporarily closed to curb the spread of coronavirus, just like anywhere else. Moreover, the experience is being taken online to enable tourists and other people to tour some of the country’s touristic features.

This week, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), in partnership with The Ellen Fund, Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and Habitat XR, announced that they were bringing the country’s mountain gorilla trekking experience to people’s living rooms through a Virtual Reality (VR).

A VR film, launched as the world celebrated this year’s Earth Day on April 22, allows people to get a virtual tour of the mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park from the comfort of their homes.

“Isn’t it incredible? It’s like you’re with the gorillas!” Ellen DeGeneres, who’s currently building a conservation centre in Rwanda, said of the new VR of mountain gorillas.

A five-minute immersive cinematic virtual reality experience, the film brings you face-to-face with amazing and famous mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

With your personal VR headset, you can escape reality and go on a gorilla trek with the beautiful, curious endangered mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

The film is free, and can be viewed on partner platforms such as Oculus, Within, Samsung VR, Littlstar and VeeR.

A snapshot of the film can also be viewed without a VR headset online.

Belise Kariza, RDB’s Chief Tourism Officer, said global tourism has been greatly affected by coronavirus, which has forced countries to suspend gorilla safaris.

“We are sad we can’t welcome visitors to see and experience our beautiful country right now,” she said.

“However, it’s in everyone’s best interest to stay safe at home while we work with our partners to create and share immersive content like this Gorillas VR film,” she added.

Mountain gorillas are some of Rwanda’s famous tourism offerings. But as a result of Covid-19, visits to these endangered animals have been halted to contain the virus.

Demand for virtual tourism is growing as countries attempt to maintain the visibility of their tourist attractions even as the coronavirus continues to take its toll on the industry.

In South Africa, for instance, Kruger Park already provides twice-daily virtual safaris.



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