ZimParks defers new entry fees

Following criticism from tourism stakeholders, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management (ZimParks) has agreed to postpone an increase in park entry fees until April of next year, after tour operators complained the new charges were ‘too steep’ and would harm Zimbabwe’s tourism recovery.

ZimParks had announced that under new entry fees, locals would pay US$19 to enter through the ordinary gate, up from US$7 per person, and SADC and international clients pay US$30 and US$50, respectively, up from US$20 and US$30.

Locals who want to see the Rainforest under the moonlight were expected to pay US$15 per person, those from SADC were to pay US$70 and US$100 for international clients.

However, entrance fees to Victoria Falls for tourists in Zambia were reported to be US$20 per adult, compared to US$50 per adult in Zimbabwe.

The Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe (TBCZ) wrote to ZimParks on December 24, 2022, urging the authority to reconsider its price increases.

“The Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe would like to express its surprise and concern at the recent announcement of fee increases from the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and we request an urgent rethink of the proposed implementation of the increases,” said TBCZ president Wengayi Nhau.

Despite the backlash, the TBCZ president stated as a stakeholder, it supported ZimParks and the need for its operations to be funded in such a way that it achieves ongoing and consistent success.

“We have always been of this opinion and have long supported efforts to achieve this success. This Authority and the estates it administers are the backbones of our travel and tourism sector and it is our desire to enhance their operation and ensure long term stability and protection,” Nhau said.

In response, ZimParks Director General, Dr Fulton Mangwanya, said the authority would defer the implementation of the increases in park entry fees until the second quarter of 2023.

“This is meant to allow stakeholders ample time to update trade partners and travellers of the changes. The changes will be implemented on April 1, 2023. ZimParks would like to advise also that in an effort to support domestic tourism, the local conservation fee for Rainforest of US$7 will remain in force. The authority has agreed to maintain it as it is,” he said in a letter to TBCZ.

“We remain committed to supporting the ongoing recovery efforts for the tourism sector in Zimbabwe whilst enduring that we continue to conserve and protect our natural heritage and protected parks estates under our mandate across Zimbabwe.”

Other proposed fees included US$30 per person for locals, US$75 for SADC, and US$150 for international clients to enter through the VIP gate.

Locals were charged US$5 to visit the Zambezi River, while SADC clients were charged US$12 and international clients were charged US$15. Children under the age of five were charged half the adult fees.

Vehicles were to be charged between $5 and $20 for small cars, $20 for buses and lorries, and $30 for foreign-registered vehicles.

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