The decision by Rwanda to increase the price of gorilla trekking permits is likely to benefit its neighbours Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where the world-famous mountain primates are also found.
The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has increased the fees for both local and international visitors effective from 6 May , when the announcement was made. Foreign tourists will now pay double from $750 to $1,500, while locals and East Africans will pay a similar amount from $36.3, an over 4,000 percent increase.
RDB has also introduced a new package for tourists wishing to book an entire family of gorillas at a cost of $15,000. The package includes exclusive personalised tour guide services, it says.
Price increase aims to strengthen conservation efforts
The decision to review the charges upwards has elicited concerns from players in the tourism sector, who argue that the new fees will reduce the country’s competitiveness. Though the rare primates are most popular in Rwanda, the volcanic Virunga mountains range that is home to the gorillas is also shared by Uganda and the DRC. It is feared that the new rates are likely to force tourists to abandon Rwanda in favour of its neighbours who have not increased their charges.
“We are targeting high-end tourists. I don’t think the low prices in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo will divert the traffic to those countries,” the RDB chief executive Clare Akamanzi told The EastAfrican.
She said the price increase aims to strengthen conservation efforts as well as revenue that communities living around the Volcanoes National Park receive for development projects.
But the Rwanda Tours and Travel Association (RTTA) said that while it supports efforts to conserve the endangered species, the sudden increase of the permit fees will affect the industry adversely. “We believe an immediate doubling of gorilla permits will be taken negatively by the market, it will affect our businesses and the entire tourism value chain, and we risk losing substantial revenue for the industry and government as a whole,” RTTA said in a statement.
The association accused RDB of failing to consult the stakeholders, adding that this will make it hard for the firms to “manage the sudden and abrupt change.”
The concerns were reiterated by the Rwanda Safari Guides Association (RSGA), which expressed its frustration with the new development. “We were not given enough time to adjust to this abrupt change.
“As transporters, I can assure you that we are not amused by this change. We made big investments and the least we should have got is a question of what we think before the change,” said Patrick Kwizera, the chairman of RSGA.
While RDB said the price increase will not affect tourists who had purchased their tickets before 6 May, the decision was met by criticism from hoteliers who said tourists have begun cancelling their bookings. Rwandans too criticised the move saying the sharp increase locked many of them out.
But Akamazi, defending the raise, said only about four percent of locals visit the Volcanoes National Park, an indication that they were not interested even when the prices were low.
Rwandans and other East Africans who have been paying $36.3 will now pay $1,500 per permit per visit. The gorilla permit for foreign residents has gone up 328.5 per cent from $375 to $1,500.
Radisson Hotel Group unveils Radisson Hotel Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle, its second brand in Morocco
Radisson Hotel Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle (Source: Saadiyah Hendricks)
Radisson Hotel Group is proud to announce the debut of its second brand and third hotel in Morocco with the signing of Radisson Hotel Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle in partnership with Al Hoceinia Hospitality. With construction already underway, the hotel is scheduled to open in 2023 and will consist of 133 guestrooms and suites.
Located in the heart of Casablanca’s vibrant and exclusive Gauthier district, one of the prominent corporate, financial and entertainment districts, Radisson Hotel Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle is just 2.5 km from the glistening La Corniche, the charming Old Medina, and Hassan II Mosque, the second largest mosque in the world. The hotel will offer a unique view over the Arab League Park and will also form part of La Citadelle, a new, premium mixed-use development which will comprise of residences, offices and retail outlets.
Ramsay Rankoussi, Vice President, Development, Africa & Turkey, Radisson Hotel Group, said, “Morocco is a strategic bridge between Europe and the rest of Africa, and a key focus market in our African development strategy. We aim to grow our Moroccan portfolio to over 15 hotels within the next three to five years, and Casablanca is a key city where we are looking to expand our footprint to more than five hotels. Radisson Hotel Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle is the Moroccan debut of our fastest-growing brand in Africa, and marks our third hotel in the country, joining our other two successful properties, Radisson Blu Hotel, Casablanca City Center and Radisson Blu Hotel, Marrakech Carré Eden. We expect to introduce each of our remaining three brands but also cover all segments, from business hotels to resort properties, as well as serviced apartments. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners, Al Hoceinia Hospitality, for their trust as we look at working together to reinforce our presence across Morocco with additional properties.”
Hamza Laghrari, Managing Director of Al Hoceinia Hospitality, Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle managing company said, “It is with great pleasure that we commence this journey and long-term relationship with Radisson Hotel Group and together introduce the upscale Radisson brand to the Moroccan market. The hotel which will be equipped with the latest innovation to accompany the changing expectations of business customers, will provide a new and an ideal venue for business and leisure guests and an enhancement to the city of Casablanca. As part of our group’s diversification strategy, the tourism industry is an important growth sector in which we see opportunities in the near future, and we are pleased to partner with Radisson Hotel Group to introduce this property and eventually many more. We aim to open a total of five hotels by 2025 in Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech and Tangiers.”
The Scandinavian-inspired, upscale brand, Radisson, will make its Moroccan debut with the new build, 133-room hotel, consisting of contemporary superior rooms and suites. Radisson Hotel Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle will enable guests to focus on a work/life balance and find harmony in their travel experience, while enjoying the hotel’s modern, state of the art technology, and design. Various cuisine options will be available at the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant, patio as well as its panoramic rooftop restaurant. Meetings and event venues will include a large conference and function room as well as five meeting rooms. Perfectly equipped for guests to strike a healthy balance, the hotel will offer both a fitness room and a rooftop pool.
Casablanca Gauthier La Citadelle (Source: Saadiyah Hendricks)
Radisson Hotel Group’s top priority is the continued health, safety and security of its guests, team members, and business partners. The Group applies its Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol created in collaboration with SGS, the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company, and recently unveiled its new comprehensive testing program as the first hotel group to roll out a rapid testing service for meeting and event attendees at properties across its EMEA portfolio.
Radisson Hotel Group renews partnership with SGS and continues global application of the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol
Radisson Hotel Group is proud to announce the extension of its partnership with SGS, the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity, and the continued global roll out of the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol to further strengthen Radisson Hotel Group’s existing rigorous sanitation, cleanliness and disinfection program across its portfolio around the world.
In 2020, Radisson Hotel Group worked closely with SGS to conduct a thorough review of all existing health and safety processes and worked with a team of experts to develop and validate the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol, a comprehensive series of 20-Step and 10-step protocols for hotels and for Meetings & Events. These enhanced protocols which include comprehensive health and safety procedures such as increased cleaning and disinfection especially in high touch point areas, sanitizing stations, team member personal protective equipment (PPE), physical distancing measures and hybrid solutions for meetings, improved air circulation, and strict food safety procedures, have all been validated by SGS, building on local requirements and recommendations to ensure guests’ safety and peace of mind from check-in to check-out. In addition, Radisson Hotel Group has adapted the Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol specifically for Resorts, with attention to services like sports, spa facilities and kids’ clubs.
The Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol is an official cleanliness and disinfection label which can be used by hotels only after an in-depth centralized validation process has been conducted by SGS. In addition, selected hotels receive the additional SGS Disinfection monitored & Cleaning Checked label upon completion of a comprehensive local audit including on-site testing using the latest technology.
“At Radisson Hotel Group, the health and safety of our guests, team members and partners continue to be a top priority. The world has been fundamentally changed by COVID-19, so it is key that we continue innovating and striving to deliver a clean and safe environment to all who walk through our doors, stay in our hotels and conduct meetings in our properties. SGS has been a key partner to ensure our hotels are providing the best and latest health and safety measures, and we are proud to renew our partnership for a second year,” says Federico J. González, CEO, Radisson Hotel Group.
Frankie Ng, CEO of SGS, adds that: “Expert and documented validation by SGS of health, safety and prevention protocols related to COVID-19 has allowed the Tourism industry and Radisson Hotel Group to inspire trust and confidence to travelers around the world. The goal of our continued partnership is to ensure that the highest hygiene standards are met, and to protect guests as well as Radisson Hotel Group team members and partners.
As part of the Group’s ongoing commitment to the safe return of travel and to allow for a swift return to business, Radisson Hotel Group recently launched its new comprehensive testing program as the first hotel group to roll out a rapid testing service for meeting and event attendees at properties across their EMEA portfolio. In addition, hotels will be able to direct guests to an easily accessible and affordable PCR testing location. The comprehensive testing program for guests is groundbreaking in its coordinated approach across EMEA to reinstall confidence and peace of mind to travelers as the world returns to business by providing a safe environment and seamless testing facilitation.
Radisson Hotel Group continues play a key role in the development of the World Travel and Tourism (WTTC)’s “Safe Travels” and “Seamless Travel” health and safety protocols, a global framework and stamp for a safe return to business and to create consistency across the Travel and Tourism industry. The WTTC’s Safe Travels stamp is currently endorsed by over 200 destinations around the world.
Reimagining the Future of Sustainable Tourism in Africa
At Spurt! We are always looking to amplify solutions to critical and specific challenges in Sub Saharan Africa. This week, we reviewed Why Tourism Desperately Needs a New Performance Metric Post-Pandemic by Lebawit Lily Girma. The wake of COVID-19 and its effects on the Tourism sector has unearthed realities that the sector’s metric for success needs to go beyond the numbers; the arrivals and GDP contributions. There’s a solid case for other sustainable ways for measuring success that is as inclusive and effective in capturing the real value add brought by tourist activities. The ongoing equity issue and the colonial legacy entrenched in the sector have to be front and centre to address these.
Tourism is one of the most important economic sectors. According to the UN, It employs one in every ten people on Earth and provides livelihoods to hundreds of millions more. Due to the anchor role it plays in boosting economies, it is imperative that key stakeholders, with the government taking a leading part, take active steps in safeguarding the growth and sustainability of the sector. The sector’s importance notwithstanding, transparency
It is always subjective what the actual cost of a destination is. In Africa, there’s a pervasive question around the trickle-down effect of the money spent on tourism to the local communities and any transformative change that has occurred over time. Historically, the tourism value chain has always been fragmented. According to a McKinsey report, there has been limited coordination among the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that make up a large portion of the sector.
The information champions a more proactive government involvement in the industry through fostering creative alliances between the public and private sector. This cross-sector collaboration can act as an integral leadership centre in tackling emerging issues in the industry and mainstream responsible tourism. The Brookings Institution report on Africa’s tourism potential lauds the governments of Morocco, Mauritius, Kenya, and South Africa to prioritise the tourism sector as a critical driver of growth, allocating resources towards the development of the tourism sector.
Responsible tourism allows local communities to earn a modest income from the tourism activities while supporting conservation efforts. As Lebawit rightfully points out, all efforts geared towards building back the sector better will not be complete without local communities’ inclusion. As the call to decolonise the tourism sector become more substantial, it is becoming clear that innovative and localised tourism is key to a solid and resilient industry. Creative organisations like Turn Up Travel in Kenya are revolutionising responsible tourism through curating unique experiences through striking a balance between destination selection, commerce, conservation and community. More local organisations like Turn Up need to find the root is taking centre stage in diversifying the sector.
At Spurt, the conversation on championing responsible tourism excites us. Local MSMEs are front and centre in the drive to reimagine how a sustainable sector would look. We aspire to be the platform for fostering the growth of scalable local businesses in sub-Saharan Africa that adhere to the best performance and ethical standards. With our research and analytics capabilities, strategic advisory, stakeholder engagement, and implementation support, we are eager to work with local companies like Turn Up by convening, developing, and exciting the best young African thinkers passionate about working for their continent’s economic development.
Written by: Spurt!