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It was an interesting weekend for anyone working in Rwanda’s tourism. Gorilla permit fees doubled overnight, to eye-popping USD 1,500.
Rwanda Development Board has been exemplary so far in terms of selling mountain gorilla tracking to the world. Their press release says that the increase is in line with the country’s high-end tourism strategy and will strengthen conservation efforts and contribute more to the development of local communities. They must be knowing what they are doing.
However, such an abrupt change is problematic for both visitors and the tourism industry. Responses to the official tweet demonstrate that well enough.
The tourism fraternity rightfully expects to be consulted or at least cautioned well in advance before such changes happen. It’s the private sector that makes tourism work, not governments. Official bodies should help tour operators instead of hampering them.
Uganda’s visa fees eventually returned back to USD 50, after a lot of pressure from the tourism industry. But the most likely scenario this time is not that Rwandan gorilla permits will ever cost USD 750 again. It is that Ugandan (USD 600, currently discounted to USD 450) and Congolese (USD 400, currently discounted to USD 200) permits go up soon…
Could we please ask the authorities to engage tour operators and inform travellers before anything else takes place?
text: Miha Logar