Saturday 17 December 2022


ZIMBABWE Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) has increased entry fees into the Victoria Falls Rain Forest and Zambezi River, courting the ire of tourism industry players who are saying they were not consulted.

In a notice, Zimparks said the new conservation fees for entry into the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls are with effect from 1 January.

The wildlife authority has defended the move saying entry fees into the world’s natural wonder remains cheaper compared to other places in the region.

According to the new fees schedule, it will cost US$10 for locals to enter through the ordinary gate up from US$7 per person while Sadc and international clients will pay US$30 and US$50, up from US$20 and US$30 respectively.

To enter through the VIP gate, locals will pay US$30 per person, US$75 for Sadc and US$150 for international clients, fees which the industry said is too exorbitant considering that fees schedules had already been advertised for the year 2023.

Locals who want to tour the rainforest under moonlight will be expected to part with US$15 per person while Sadc clients will pay US$70 and US$100 for international clients.

Visiting the Zambezi River will now cost US$5 for locals while Sadc clients will pay US$12 and those from the international world paying US$15.

Children above five years of age will pay half the adult fees.

Vehicles will be charged between US$5 for small cars and US$20 for buses and lorries while foreign registered vehicles will pay US$30 each.

Tour of the rainforest is one of the many activities tourists embark on in Victoria Falls. Others are game drives, bungee jumping, white water rafting, cruise, gorge swing, zipline, and interaction with animals among others.

While the industry feels hard done by Zimparks’ short notice, the wildlife authority says the fees structure remains relatively low compared to other destinations in the continent.

Victoria Falls has over the years been tagged as an expensive destination compared to other destinations.

Zimparks spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo said the wildlife authority does not get funding from Treasury yet it needs money for anti-poaching and conservation activities as well as improving conditions of service for workers.

“The fees will be effective January and I think the prices are fair if we do a comparison with our competitors in the region. We have a sensitive Government which wants people to access these things which is why we always try to maintain at affordable rates.

“This is our most prized asset, Victoria Falls and as our premier tourist destination, I don’t think US$10 is too steep for locals because the asset must generate its own income. Compared to other destinations around the world you find that viewing guerillas in Rwanda is between US$750 to US$1 500 while park entrance fees in Tanzania is US$30 while visiting the rainforest is the cheapest thing that a person can get in Victoria Falls,” said Mr Farawo.

He said funds raised from entry fees are used to maintain game parks and cater for other operational costs, research and conserving wildlife and environment.

“Let’s encourage our people to pay so that we create a country that we want. We need to make sure that we visit our resorts and also build our country,” said Mr Farawo.

Tourism players are concerned that Zimparks did not consult the industry which had already advertised fees for 2023 hence it will be difficult to start engaging agents and clients about the new fees.

Operators said Victoria Falls is a national asset and decisions should be based on consultation.

Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe president Mr Wengayi Nhau said while the industry fully understands the predicament of Zimparks in as far as raising conservation fees is concerned and that the authority has discretion to increase fees as and when it sees fit, it was important to consult stakeholders considering that the fees are levied on clients.

“We are actually shocked and very surprised to say the least. Looking at the amount of increase from US$30 to US$50 for international tourists, that’s about 50 percent increment and by any standards this is on a higher side.

“What worries more is not about the amount but the short notice that they gave us. The tourism industry packages in advance and our quotations had already gone and some payments have been made at the current rate. This means we have to go back to the client and ask for more money and that will not go down well with the clients as they will feel cheated,” said Mr Nhau.

He said such scenarios will not be good for the image of the country. Sunday News


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