Rwanda’s increased permit finally on discount
Gorilla trekking has for long been the back bone to tourism in Rwanda. A year ago, the Rwandan government increased the Rwanda gorilla trekking permit from Rwf650 ($750) to Rwf1.3million ($ 1500) to set the country as a high-end tourism destination.
Why the permit price was increased
The justification of doubling the gorilla trekking permit price for both local and international tourists was to place the country as an exceptional tourism destination.
The other reason was to promote conservation by reducing the number of gorilla trekking tourists mean while maintaining revenues, according to the chief tourism officer at the Rwanda Development Board Belise Kaliza.
The increase however has been good to the country. Last year (2017), Rwanda gorilla safari tourists numbered to about 1.3 million at the increased price. If Rwanda sells 80 gorilla trekking permits each day, after 365 days the targets could be met.
To boost tourism in the country, early this year, Rwanda signed a huge deal with a London based English Football club -Arsenal FC as the club’s first ever shirt sleeve sponsor and Arsenals official tourism partner.
Why the Rwanda gorilla trekking permit discount was bound to happen
Rwanda has been charging $1,500 for a single gorilla trekking permit for each tourist to spend one hour with a habituated gorilla family in Volcanoes national park.
Volcanoes national park is found in the Virunga massif bordering three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. The park is adjacent to Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda and Virunga national park in Congo, all these parks have mountain gorillas!
When Rwanda doubled their permit price, Uganda continued to sell their permits at $600 while Congo stayed at $400. Since the gorilla permits in Congo are cheaper and the park was closed for tourism till next year (2019), Uganda remained a better option.
On top of being cheaper than Rwanda, Uganda has two national parks with gorillas which are Bwindi impenetrable national park and the earlier on mentioned Mgahinga gorilla national park which are home to more than half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas.
Challenged by deteriorating business, tour and travel operators in Rwanda have welcomed a 30 per cent low-season discount for gorilla trekking permits to Volcanoes national park.
Tour operators say that they incur extra costs when their clients cross over to Uganda. Some of which are, they have to pay $20 (Rwf17,346) to the Uganda Revenue Authority, $30 (Rwf26,019) for Comesa insurance and fuel charges, which increases on their expenditure compared to tourists trekking gorillas in Rwanda.
The manager of New Horizon Tours and Services Emmanuel Karake stated that; “The $1,500 fee is killing us, the discount is a relief,” “The gorilla tracking is a unique experience, but this permit fee is too high.”
Implications of the discount
The whole meaning of the discount is that Rwanda gorilla trekking safari tourists will pay Rwf911,076 ($1,050) between November (2018) and May (2019).
The discount comes along with conditions from some tour operators for instance, a tourist will have to spend at least three days in the country and also visit Rwanda’s national parks of Akagera and Nyungwe, as an added cost.
The gorilla trekking experience is one of a kind, only those who take time to encounter these gentle giants of the wild can tell the joy. Take time to have a gorilla safari in your desired destination.