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Massive Park Fees Hike Proposed

Posted by maunselfdrive4x4 on September 4, 2011 at 5:15 PM

From this weeks article in the Ngami Times By Norman Chandler:

Botswana appears to be pricing itself out of the international tourism market with a proposed whopping increase in fees for entry by land, river and air into the national parks.


The Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) has been holding meetings with industry stakeholders over their proposals, and have run up against objections from all sides.


However, according to insiders, the DWNP is likely to go ahead with the increases and many in the industry think this could result in large-scale cancellations next year as well as crippling the lucrative 4x4 tourist influx from South Africa or Namibia. “We were told it is a proposal and that our contribution to how the park fees should be structured would be welcomed.


“It is clear they have not done any proper study. Objections made were that Botswana is an expensive destination as it is, so putting up the park fees will affect future bookings,” said one participant at a meeting held at the Bocodol college in Maun last week. “The officials would also not let the industry have a copy of the proposals.”


It is understood the proposals do not affect the privatised camping areas which have their own set of charges.


Self-drive tourists into the Moremi and Chobe game reserves will have to fork out P350 per person as against the current P120 if the proposals are implemented.


Camping fees in the northern parks are set to jump from P30 to P200 per person and in the southern parks to P100. Wilderness camping will now cost P600 per person per day as against the existing P200. In the south, the fee will be P400.


Staff at lodges will be charged P500 (citizens) as against nil at present, and the residents' annual fee is proposed at P5 000.00 – a P4 000 jump.


Botswana registered cars, currently charged P10 to enter any park will cost P50 and trailers also P50, while it is proposed that foreign registered vehicles will be charged at a rate of P150, with the same amount for trailers. The biggest jump is reserved for the popular mokoro trips. The annual cost for mokoro trips has been set at P2 000 and the day rate at P25. Both categories are free at present.


The aviation sector is up in arms over the charges proposed for aircraft.


A Botswana registered plane is currently able to land for free in the parks but if the proposal goes through, this will become P600 per landing, and the annual fee – which will, say insiders, cause a major hardship for air charter companies – is set to go up from the current P1 500 to P5 000.


Foreign registered aircraft are presently charged P250 per day but this is scheduled to go up to P600 per landing. “Many air charter companies will not be able to afford these fees,” said one aviation expert.

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Reply maunselfdrive4x4
3:55 PM on October 2, 2011 
From Edition 573 30 September - 7 October 2011 article in the Ngami Times By Keto Segwai:

The Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) has assured the tourism sector that the proposed increase in park fees is not anticipated to negatively affect it. The assurances come amid fears that the final fee structure may not necessarily incorporate the inputs from other stakeholders in the sector.

The wildlife estates manager, Botshabelo Othusitse, however, maintained that the department is ?going to incorporate the views of the stakeholders as a means of mitigating any such negative impacts. The DWNP take seriously the concerns raised by the stakeholders as well as their proposals and will factor them into the new fee structure.?

In the past few weeks the DWNP has been consulting stakeholders in Maun, Kasane and Gantsi ?because the majority of the operators are based in the three areas hence it is our belief that their view will be representative of the majority in the sector.?

The chief executive officer of the Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB), Lily Rakorong confirmed that their members are being consulted on the proposed park fees. On whether she expects the final fee structure to reflect their concerns as an industry, Rakorong noted that ?we trust that government will take into consideration our input hence they are consulting us. Also we believe it is in the interest of both public/private sectors to have a sustainable tourism industry.?

The two parties, the government and the tourism sector, are however in agreement not only on the need to review the park fees but are also dismissive of the widely held perception that Botswana is already an expensive destination.

Supporting the need for the review Rakorong says ?as HATAB for sometime now we have been advocating for the review. The proposal is to re-align the current park fee with the current value of tourism product in Botswana.?

Othusitse concurs that ?the current park fees came into effect in year 2000 and have remained stagnant for more than 10 years. It is a known fact that during that period the cost of managing our protected areas and wildlife has continuously increased.?

Regarding the perception that Botswana is already an expensive destination, Othusitse explains that ?the principle of high-cost low-tourism in Botswana remains in force, but the fact is Botswana remains cheap in as far as the fees charged by government for protected areas is concerned.

?Imagine an international tourist paying only P120 (US$20 or 12 British Pounds) park entry fees to enjoy the beauty of the Chobe River front or the Moremi Game Reserve the whole day. Would you believe that this is expensive? The answer is no. It is very cheap.?

Othusitse also disparaged concerns that the review could be targeted at weeding out some of the 4 x 4 tour operators who are generally considered as being disrespectful of environment, maintaining ?it is not intended to compromise any sector of the society, be it national or international, but rather to address lapse in the fees resulting from a long spell of review as well as environmental issues resulting from the current operations.?
Reply maunselfdrive4x4
3:40 AM on January 19, 2012 
From the Maun DWNP office: They don't know if and what the increase will be, but every booking and entrance fee paid NOW will be honoured by the department, even if the prices are increased this year. However, the DWNP is not accepting 2013 entry payments yet.