Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Rwanda private sector contests new gorilla permit pricing

The Rwandan private sector involved in tourism and hospitality industry has raised concern over the recent increase of 'gorilla permit' pricing by 50 per cent, as it might jeopardize their business. Last week, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) announced the increment which will take effect beginning June 1 this year save for the prior bookings made before this date. The increase will see foreign non-residents pay $750 as opposed to the current $500 to visit the gorillas; foreigners residing in Rwanda will pay$375 instead of $250, Rwandan nationals $50 up from $33 respectively.

However, the private sector says the ‘immediate and draconian enforcement of this decision’ will have lasting repercussions on their industry and the image of the country. The mountain gorillas are one of Rwanda’s top tourism revenue earners, accounting for 90 per cent of park revenue generated in the country. “The implementation of this increase was done without due consultation and we regret the manner in which this was done despite our attempts to consult on this process. We have already seen strong reactions from our partners, and we are very sure that this is going to have a negative impact on our businesses and the industry at large,” reads the statement in part signed by the chairman of tourism chamber of Rwanda’s Private Sector Federation (PSF), the umbrella organization of the private sector issued on January, 28th.
Rwanda’s tourism receipts leaped to $200 million in 2010, up 14 per cent from 2009. In 2011, the sector generated $251million. “This increase comes at a time when there is significant growth of the gorilla population as well as an increasing demand for gorilla tourism. We are very committed to sustain our efforts in conservation in order to protect their environment as well as the rich biodiversity that exist in our national parks,” John Gara , the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of RDB said announcing the increment.
The population of mountain gorillas has increased by 26.3 per cent over the last seven years with a 3.7 percent annual growth, according to Gorilla Census conducted in April 2010.

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