Local communities to receive share of revenues from tourism

Residents close to parks get 10 percent of the tourism revenues. The money goes to community projects such as schools, health centres, among others.
Mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. Local communities will receive 10% of revenues from parks. Sam Ngendahimana.

The revenue-share model where government gives 10 percent of tourism receipts to communities around national parks continues to change lives.

This year, residents of Kitabi sector that is close to the Nyungwe National Park will this year get houses and those from kayonza close to Akagera national park will get a mobile clinic.

With the revenue share model, residents close to parks get 10 percent of the revenues. The money goes to community projects such as schools, health centres, income generating activities and support to the vulnerable members of the community.

Rwanda Development Board (RDB) that coordinates the activity also announced the fruits of a partnership with record producer Akon.

Under the partnership, the Senegalese-born RnB singer will provide solar lighting systems and solar water pumps to communities around the parks.

Over US$1.28 million has been spent on more than 158 community-based projects in three main national parks; Akagera National Park, Nyungwe National Park and Volcanoes National Park.

The Governor of the Northern Province Jean-Marie Vianney Gatabazi commended revenue-share model. He said that the initiative has not only been vital in making conservation a success in Rwanda but has also transformed lives. 

Over the last nine years, revenues from the mountain gorilla conservation efforts and the resulting tourism, has raked in US$107 million to the national coffers.

“Many schools and health facilities have been built around Volcanoes National Park (home of endangered mountain gorillas in the Northern Province),” Gatabazi said.

The Volcanoes National Park is located in the Northern Province.

“Many high-end hotels continue to emerge in Musanze town and on the foothills of the Volcanoes Park, our citizens and former poachers now have jobs as tour guides and work in some of these hotels in various capacities. They earn much more than they did before,” the Governor said.

As a result of conservation efforts, the population of the endangered mountain gorilla the Virunga Massif has increased to 604 in 2016 in from 480 in 2010.

“Mountain gorillas have not just grown in numbers but even the infant mortality rate has reduced significantly. You have to give credit to the conservation effort from everyone involved in Viruga massif transboundary cooperation. We even see the number of baby gorillas named every year in Rwanda increasing and surviving through maturity,” Anna Behm Masozera, the Director of International Gorilla Conservation Programme told The New Times.

The increase in the mountain gorilla population led the Government of Rwanda to institute a preliminary study on the possibility of expanding the Volcanoes National Park to ensure adequate habitat for the mountain gorilla.  Today the park is 16,027.8 hectares.

“The plan is a major step in the consolidation of Rwanda’s conservation gains for the benefit of communities today and future generations.” Belise Kariza the Chief Tourism Officer at RDB said.

Earlier this year RDB received a 27-hectare land donation from the African Wildlife Foundation.

“This park expansion will ensure not only the adequate habitat of the endangered mountain gorilla but it will also improve both socio-economic opportunities for more than 18,000 people and the tourism experience in Volcanoes National Park.” Kariza added.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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