Rwanda’s reduction in gorilla trekking permit fees sparks optimism for tourism growth in 2024

On 17 January 2024 at 02:22

The government’s move to reduce gorilla trekking fees is expected boost tourism industry in 2024 to soar higher cementing the industry’s position as one of the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner, a position it had lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic that had affected the global economy, thus slowing down tourism activities due to movement restrictions.

Rwanda Development Board (RDB), on 5th January 2024, announced a reduction in the cost of gorilla trekking permits. The permit fees for gorilla trekking are now reduced from $1500 to $500 for foreign residents.

Gorilla permits for Africans outside the East African Community will now cost $500 while gorilla trekking permits for East Africans will cost $200 per person. This is expected to boost Rwanda’s tourism sector and make gorilla trekking more accessible to a wider range of tourists.

Frank Muzungu, the Managing Director of Kigali Car Rentalssaid the move by RDB could see an increase in local and regional tourists.

“With these reduced prices for both domestic and regional tourists, we are going to witness increased local tourists. This year begins on a positive note and the sector is upbeat. Thanks to RDB’s new price policy,” said Muzungu, MD of Kigali Car Rentals.

“Campaigns like Visit Rwanda with some of Europe’s top football teams like Arsenal, Bayern Munich, and PSG have seen an increase in foreign tourists coming to the country and the number will be much bigger this year hence an increase in tourism revenues,” Muzungu the managing Director Kigali Car Rental said.

Muzungu says with the government’s strategy of a private sector-led economy, many private players have been able to join the sector to provide competitive quality services, some of which are cross-border which has facilitated tourism across the region.

“We have added flexible offers such as the self-drive package where tourists or groups can rent cars, drive themselves and if they are exiting the country through another EAC country, they don’t have to drive back to Rwanda. They deposit it at our outlet in the country of exit and proceed with their journey,” Muzungu explained.

Cross-border Tour operators facilitate seamless experiences for tourists across countries.

According to Darius Do Santos, of Darius Tours and Travel, a tour company that operates across East Africa, the decision by the Rwandan government will be a gamechanger, in the sense that the rates are now favourable, especially for tourists looking to take advantage of the EAC Single Tourist Visa.

The move is also likely to have a positive impact on Rwanda’s endangered mountain gorilla population.

By increasing the number of visitors, the government hopes to raise awareness of the plight of the mountain gorillas and generate more funds to protect them.

The recent tourism statistics reveal that Rwanda’s revenues from tourism amounted to US$247 million during the first half of 2023, reflecting a notable 56% surge compared to the US$158 million reported during the same period in 2022.

This growth came on the backdrop of a successful previous year where figures show that Rwanda’s tourism revenues had increased to US$445 million in 2022, up 171.3 percent from the previous year, with nature-based tourism bearing the potential to drive the country’s economic growth.

Gorilla trekking generated revenues of US$113 million, as RDB revealed in a report released recently.

The country attracted about 110,000 visitors to its national parks in 2022, registering an increase of 142.4 percent from 2021, the report said. It added that the country aims to increase tourism receipts to 800 million dollars by 2024.

The services sector, mainly tourism and hospitality, played a significant role, contributing 46% to the GDP, followed by the agriculture sector at 25%, the industry sector at 21%, and net direct taxes accounting for 7%.

Rwanda’s move to reduce gorilla trekking fees is expected boost tourism industry in 2024.