Revenue generated from gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park amounted to $11 million (approx. Rwf11 billion) within the first six months of 2022, according to Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
The money was earned from the sale of 6,200 gorilla permits during that period. Each permit costs up to $1500
In 2021 and 2020, the park generated $6 million and $5.9 million respectively owing to the lockdowns and movement restrictions attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2019, it stood at $21.9 million before the pandemic.
According to Ariella Kageruka, Head of Tourism and Conservation Department, RDB, gorilla tourism is one of the key contributors of recovery in tourism sector.
“The high-end tourism with gorillas being the leading attractions that has brought back tourism in Rwanda.”
Kageruka was speaking during a press conference for the occasion of Kwita Izina 18th edition slated for September 2.
The ceremony that will be held on the foothills of Volcanoes National Park will see the naming of 20 baby gorillas born in Kinigi, Musanze.
Since the start of the tourism flagship event in 2005 which is held annually, about 354 baby gorillas were named.
There has been a number of initiatives to improve the livelihoods of park communities including tourism revenue sharing program.
Kageruka cited that the program that gives 10 percent of total revenue back to the community has seen over Rwf7.9 billion distributed to more than 880 community based projects.
These include schools, medical facilities, and other key infrastructure projects.
RDB’s statistics indicate that the tourism sector has generated $168 million revenue in the first six months of this year.
After facing challenges of Covid-19 inbound tourism revenue has increased by 25 percent from $131 million in 2020 to $164 million in 2021 with Rwanda welcoming over 512,000 international visitors last year.
With the increasing population of the endangered mountain gorillas, the government of Rwanda in collaboration of the African Wildlife Foundation seeks to expand Volcanoes National Park, a project that is expected to cost $255 million (approx. Rwf260 billion).
The initiative will expand the park by approximately 23 percent, increasing its size by 37.4 square kilometers (or 3,740 hectares) to enhance the effective habitat functioning of the park.