The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has confirmed plans to implement changes to the current gorilla permit rates by 50 percent with effect from 1st June, 2012.
Charges for foreign non residents will increase to US$ 750 from US$500, whereas foreigners residing in Rwanda will be charged US$ 375 instead of US$250 to trek the gorillas.
Rwandan nationals will be charged US$ 50 up from US $33.
The Chief Executive of RDB, John Gara explained that the increase coincides with significant growth of the gorilla population as well as increasing demand for gorilla tourism.
“This means that there is need to continue channelling all our efforts in conservation in order to protect their environment”.
Rwanda’s gorilla conservation efforts have realised significant achievements. Currently, there are ten gorilla groups which accommodate up to eight tourists each per day, a number that has almost doubled over the last five years.
RDB clarified that the new pricing will not affect full payments and bookings for dates between now and June 1st, 2012.
“Those that have booked but have not made full payments will not be affected if they make full payments by March 15th, 2012,” the head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB, Rica Rwigamba elucidated.
She added that RDB has introduced a new VIP special group package where a group of tourists can book a gorilla group exclusively with customised services for US$10, 000 per group.
A communiqué released by RDB later stated that, “a contribution of five percent towards the communities surrounding the national parks, under the revenue sharing programme, is an activity that RDB is also committed to, and that the increase will also proportionally impact on this initiative.”
However, tour companies have urged RDB to involve them more in major decisions that affect the industry.
“I am just getting to learn about the increase in prices now. RDB’s reasons could be good, but it would help us if they communicated to us so that we adjust accordingly,” Rosette Kirongo, the Acting Manager of Virunga Expedition Tours, told The New Times over a telephone interview.