One day after resuming activities around tourism, the authorities in Rwanda have reduced the fees charged for the viewing of gorillas from $1500 down to $200 per person in the Volcanoes National park, an official revealed on Thursday in Kigali.The new measures only concern Rwanda nationals and other visitors from East African Community (EAC) member countries namely Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi, reports said.
The decision comes after the country began easing lockdown measures around COVID-19 including the resumption of international travel for chartered flights, effective 17 June 2020.
Since March this year, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) temporarily suspended gorilla trekking, research, and all other related tourism activities in various sites including the Volcanoes National Park in the north of the country.
According to the Rwandan authorities, the initiative was to prevent the spread of the deadly Coronavirus (Covid-19), which poses high risks to the endangered mountain gorillas.
Mountain gorillas are the most visited primates in Africa attracting the highest number of travelers from all over the world.
Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are the only destinations for gorilla trekking in the whole world.
It is the major source of foreign exchange contributing more than 50 percent of the respective countries’ Gross Domestic Product.
Currently the number of mountain gorillas is estimated to be over 950 gorilla species.
Once these gorillas were very endangered at the extent of extinction, and today high conservation efforts have been put in place to monitor and protect them in the forest of the Virunga region.
The pandemic has led to the shutdown of many economic activities in Rwanda including travel, tourism and hospitality, retail and trade, and manufacturing, among others.
In April this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgraded Rwanda’s economic growth forecast from 8 percent to 5.1 percent in 2020, as a result of the impact of coronavirus.