The Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa) has finally decided to revise upwards entry tariffs across the country’s 15 national parks after considering stakeholders’ concerns.
The agency has announced that alongside the review, it has renamed park entry fee as ‘conservation fee’.
Areas to be affected by the new tariffs, which take effect July 1, 2013, include filming, which the agency has described as ‘very low and out of date’.
Fees for walking safaris have also been changed chiefly owing to the popularity of that particular hobby in some parks and among tour operators.
Also affected are guiding, fly camping, sports fishing, boating, canoeing, night game drive, vehicle guiding, aircraft landing, public camping, special camping, bush lunch or dinner and student visits.
According to Tanapa, it is years since it reviewed park entry fees. The last time was in 2005, when tariffs for Serengeti and Kilimanjaro national parks were increased from USD30 to USD50 and USD60, respectively.
Attempts by the agency to do the same recently touched off stiff opposition from tourism operators, some claiming that they ought to have been informed well in advance so that they could rearrange their businesses and thus offset the hikes in costs that the revision was bound to trigger.
This time round, however, Tanapa has been cautious enough to see to it that there was ample time for the operators between the announcement of the fees and the time the new fees would come into implementation.
This time, there is no doubt whatsoever that the agency has acted properly and therefore fairly. One reason is that the tariff review was long overdue. Previous reviews were made in 2000 and 2005, while since then many things have changed a lot.
Inflation has skyrocketed, with the value of the shilling fluctuating many times over and taxes ever rising.
But also, as stated by the agency, the tariff revision will cater for things like the levels of the prices of most commodities and services that have been endlessly on the rise.
Improvement in tourism facilities and infrastructures, meant to cater better for the increased number of visitors and to diversify the sector and provide more enriching visitor experience, is yet another reason cited by the agency.
Despite these efforts, Tanapa needs to make a lot more effort, including undertaking internal restructuring and motivating staff through a range of incentive packages, if it is serious about raising more revenue.
We support this paradigm because we know for a fact that it will help to push forward tourism and therefore boost the economy.
However, this support is with reservations because of two things. One is the quality of the services on offer in our parks, which need to be re-examined. The other is the recent spate acts of sabotage apparently supported and perpetrated by some corrupt public officials and costing the nation massive sums of much-needed money.
There is every need to weed out all these elements and their criminal activities, short of which it would be impossible to see the rationale of raising tariffs.