After the increment of gorilla permits from US$750 to $1500 (in May 2017), there was fear that it would discourage intending trackers from making gorilla trekking safaris in the country. Of course the news of increasing gorilla permits was received with mixed reactions (with some saying it was a good thing for the country while others saying otherwise).
However, you will be surprised that it didn’t greatly affect the country’s gorilla tourism and interestingly, you will be surprised that several hospitality establishments started embracing the high-end tourism strategy (that involves consolidating its high value and low volume).
Tour operators now concur that from the time Rwanda Development Board (RDB) increased the price of gorilla permits, more tourists are appreciating and also embracing the tourism strategy since is was mainly done for sustainability of tourist attractions through stringent Conservation measures. International tourists now understand that the increment was done for a good cause-conservation of the critically endangered mountain gorillas and benefiting local communities surrounding the National Parks especially the Volcanoes National Park.
Not only that, there has been an increase in Up-market Safari Lodges and Hotels within Musanze district and the neighboring areas as a way of embracing Rwanda’s high-end tourism strategy. For instance, the luxurious Bisate Lodge (locally translated as “pieces) was launched/inaugurated on the 1st September 2017 by the President of Rwanda-His Excellency Paul Kagame before officiating the Kwita Izina (Gorilla naming) Ceremony on the same day. This Lodge’s exceptional architectural and beautiful Interior design was derived from Rwandan building tradition of the Nyanza Royal Palace. This Lodge is sprawled on 30 hectares of former farmlands and boasts of 6 villas and 12 exquisite rooms, 6 of which are twin-bedded.
This Lodge is joined by the new luxurious Amakoro Songa Kinigi Lodge situated within Kinigi overlooking the magnificent Sabinyo Volcanoes and is an extension of Songa Africa. This facility is was built with modern energy efficient technology and is managed in the most sustainable ways while taking care of needs of the local community members as well as conservation of nature.
All these new Lodges and others being planned will join the already operating luxury Safari Lodges and Hotels within and around Volcanoes National Park such as Jack and Hannah Cottages, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Virunga Lodge, Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel, Le Bambou Gorilla village and La Palme hotel as a way of embracing Rwanda’s high-end tourism strategy. If you are looking for unmatched luxury accommodation, then you should be able to part with a minimum of $1000 per night.
During the grand opening of Singita Kwitonda Lodge, the Managing Director, Graham Lodger pointed that the construction is projected to cost about $16 million and will be open for tourist visitation in August 2019. It will be set up along the popular Kwitonda trail with at least 8 villas as well as 12 luxury rooms and is expected to employ at least 70 people especially the locals.
According to Justin Stevens the General Manager of One&Only Resorts in Rwanda, there was a nature Resort launched in October 2017 within Nyungwe Forest National Park and another, also under the One&Only Property called Gorilla Nest is going to be put up within Volcanoes National Park.
Initially when gorilla permits were increased from $750 to $1500 per person on the 6th May 2017, there were fears of tourists shunning Rwanda but according to statistics by Belise Kariza, the Chief Tourism Officer of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), there has been an increase of 39% in gorilla revenues between May and July compared to the same time last year (2016) when permits were still at $750. This shows a positive response by tourists and service providers to Rwanda’s high-end tourism strategy.