Visiting Tanzanian parks? Carry more cash

Saturday March 23 2013

Mt Kilimanjaro. Photo/FILE

East Africans will pay from four to nine times more to visit some of Tanzania’s premier game parks from July 1.

The Tanzania National Parks Authority (Tanapa) says the increase in park fees — by about 667 per cent — is meant to enable it to move in tandem with the other EAC partner states, as they seek to harmonise park fees across the region.

Citizens of Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya and Uganda who currently pay the same fee as Tanzanians, will from July pay Tsh10,000 ($6.18) per person, up from Tsh1,500 ($0.92) to visit Serengeti, Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Tarangire, Gombe, Mahale and Manyara national parks.

Entry charges for other parks will be Tsh5,000 ($3.17) for adults and Tsh2,000 ($1.27) for children.

The Kenya Wildlife Service charges between $50 and $80 for foreigners while adult citizens from the five EAC member states of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi pay a citizen rate of Ksh1,000 ($12). Children and students pay Ksh500 ($6), in line with the provisions of the EAC Treaty.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) charges East African citizens Ush10,000 ($4) for adults while children are charged Ush5,000 ($2).


Pascal Shelutete, public relations officer at Tanapa, told The EastAfrican that the increase in park fees was preceded by consultations with tourism stakeholders and EAC partner state tourism bodies.

Noting that Tanapa last reviewed its fees in 2006, Mr Shelutete said the increase was necessary to enable the authority to meet the rising cost of improving infrastructure in the national parks and to fund conservation efforts.

In an official notice, Tanapa refers to the charges as “conservation fees” instead of the usual “park entry fees.”

Dr Ezekiel Dembe, Tanapa’s director for planning, development projects and tourism services, said the increase was also meant to improve tourism facilities and infrastructure such as roads, bridges and airstrips to cater for increased number of visitors.

READ: Revised Tanapa park entry fees to cover new products and costs

Tanapa projects that the contribution of travel and tourism to the East African countries’ GDP would drop from 7.6 per cent ($6,405.6 million) in 2008 to 7.56 per cent ($11,973.8 million) by 2018 as a result of the European financial crisis.

Reacting to news of the increase, tourism sector players said the new tariffs could hamper Tanzania’s efforts to tap tourists from the East African region and frustrate state initiatives to create the critical mass necessary to drive sustainable domestic tourism.

According to Fred Maina, chief executive of Palace Hotel, Arusha, the new fees will have a negative impact on ongoing efforts by regional tourism players to promote the EAC as a single tourism destination.

Tanzania Tourist Board statistics show that 400,000 EAC citizens, including Tanzanians, sampled the country’s tourist attractions in 2012, an indication that the region’s potential market of 130 million is yet to be tapped.

John Corse, managing director at Nomad Tours Tanzania Ltd, said the increase in fees would negatively impact domestic tourism. He hoped Tanapa would consider lowering the entry fees for foreign tourists, particularly during the low season.

“In low season, the flow of tourists normally remains down as 30 per cent and we tour operators also lower our rates to encourage more visitors. I propose that Tanapa peg its fee between $40 and $45 per tourist instead of $60,” he said.

Some players say the introduction of higher park fees puts the critical industry at risk. They argue that pricey national parks, hotels, air tickets and periodic terrorist attacks on tourists and related targets are among the factors bottling up the industry’s potential.

Tanzania is hoping to increase the number of its citizens who visit the parks. Currently, only 10 per cent of Tanzania’s park visitors are citizens, compared with Kenya, where citizens make up 60 per cent of visitors to the parks.

Additional reporting by Mike Mande