Sharapova visits Rwanda's Mountain Gorillas

APA - Kigali (Rwanda)

Russian star tennis player, Maria Yuryevna Sharapova is currently in Rwandan where she visited the majestic mountain gorillas of Kinigi, a village in the north of the country late on Tuesday, an official source confirmed Wednesday in Kigali.

Sharapova is the latest star athlete to visit the mountain gorillas in Rwanda after Arsenal defender David Luiz toured the country last month.

Under the sponsorship, the English premiership club completed a three-year deal worth D$39 million in May last year with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) which will see them promote the country on their kits.

Estimates by Rwandan officials indicate that before the deal was signed, 71 percent of the millions of Arsenal fans worldwide did not consider Rwanda a tourist destination.

But by the end of the first year of the partnership, half of them considered Rwanda a destination to visit.

Recently Rwanda has embarked on banking heavily on a tourism windfall to develop its economy by betting on high-end travel (thanks to the mountain gorillas of the Volcanoes National Park) and hosting major international conferences in Kigali.

Official reports by RDB indicate that revenue from gorilla trekking in the Volcanoes National Park increased by 25 percent in 2018 to $19.2m from the previous year from the sale of 15,132 gorilla permits during the same period.

Prior to the increase of permit price and other initiatives focusing on promoting the country tourism sectors, 22,219 were sold, raking in $15m in revenue in 2019, reports said.

Sharapova became the world's No. 1 for the first time on August 22, 2005, at the age of 18, becoming the first Russian female tennis player to top the singles rankings.

She last held the ranking for the fifth time for four weeks from June 11, 2012, to July 8, 2012.

Her 36 singles titles and five Grand Slam titles—two at the French Open and one each at the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and US Open—rank third among active players, behind the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus.


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