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In less than twenty-four hours after the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) announced major price increase in gorilla trekking permits early this week, thousands of Rwandans had booked their tickets. The citizens said the move (from 30,000 Rwandan francs for locals and 750 U.S. dollars for foreigners) is not shocking since it is affordable and still leaves many Rwandans an opportunity to experience the park.
Claude Karangwa, 39, a resident of Nyaruguru, told me the new tariff comes with great expectations: “I love to go for gorilla trekking. I have been going at least twice a year since 2008, alone or with my friends and relatives. The new price is exciting since we expect the experience to be even better.”
One top official in RDB, who spoke to this magazine on condition of anonymity, said they know Rwandans are not poor and can afford to pay 1,500 U.S. dollars to visit the gorillas. “We know Rwandans care so much about the country’s natural resources and are willing to pay for it,” the official said. “Actually it’s not about money. Exclusivity means less people damage the ecosystem – so it’s about conservation.”
Now that permits are overbooked, the official said, a team of experts and financiers are currently working on a proposal for a new increased price so as to resolve the issue.
On Wednesday evening, RDB confirmed “twelve gorilla permits have been sold at new price of $1,500 to tourists from U.S.A., Australia, Switzerland and Zimbabwe.”
I asked ‘How many from Rwanda?’ and a spokesperson said they’re “too many to count.”
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