Government is considering expanding the size of the volcanic park by 10 percent in a bid to promote the conservation of the gorillas.
Rwanda’s Gorilla tourism has recorded revenue receipts of $2,800 (Rwf1.5 million) per day according to information from the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) office of tourism and conservation.
The daily revenues are generated from 56 tourists who visit daily. Each tourist pays $500 (Rwf283,600) to trek gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park.
The RDB Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Tourism and Conservation, Rosette Chantal Rugamba, said that there are seven gorilla groups visited everyday.
“Each gorilla group is visited for an hour by a maximum of eight tourists a day. One has to book in advance in order to trek,” she explained.
According to Rugamba, gorilla trekking generates the highest revenues in visits to Rwanda’s three national parks. It is believed that about 85 percent of visitors to the Volcanoes National Park are attracted by gorilla trekking experience.
Information from the RDB Tourism Office on Gorilla Conservation and Development of Gorilla Based Tourism shows that 19,970 tourists visited the primates last year. This represents a 167 percentage increase as compared the 7476 visitors in 2003.
Rugamba added that there is no room of any further booking till September. According to the RDB tourism office, 5 percent of the gorilla earnings are injected in community development projects.
The Minister for Trade and Industry, Monique Nsanzabaganwa said government is considering expanding the size of the volcanic park by 10 percent in a bid to promote the conservation of the gorillas.
“This campaign is to encourage gorilla conservation initiatives and to promote the local tourism industry,” she explained recently during the gorilla naming ceremony dubbed as ‘Kwita Izina’.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), there are around 700 of the endangered species in the territorial boundaries of Rwanda, Congo and Uganda.
Records show that the Volcano and Virunga Mountains of Rwanda and Congo host about 380 gorillas while Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a home of over 300 primates.
Tourism is Rwanda’s leading export earner surpassing coffee and tea with $24 million (Rwf13.6 billion) of revenues.
The sector contributes 3.5 percent towards the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) last year. It is expected to account for 5.8 percent of the GDP by 2016.