Comments received over the past few days were less than favorable towards TANAPA, the Tanzania National Parks Authority.
TANAPA implemented their threatened repeat entrance fee directive, effective April 1. What initially looked like an April Fools’ Day joke, turned out to be the bitter truth, and the most affected will be local communities around national parks. They have in the past benefited from tourists leaving the park for a few hours to see local homesteads, visit cottage industries, and left vital tourist dollars where the money does the most good – at the grassroots levels. Such visits are now likely to dry up as the prospect of having to pay a second entrance fee will deter most tourists, and the safari operators, too, from continuing with such value-added trips.
Some safari operators attributed the greed for cash by TANAPA to the fact that the minister has put a stop to several other cash-minting schemes by TANAPA.
The authority rose to notoriety some time ago when they held tourists, vehicles, and drivers literally hostage at park gates in order to extort them for fees claimed from lodges and safari camps, resulting in huge negative publicity abroad when visitors intending to enter the parks then tweeted and posted Facebook comments which portrayed TANAPA staff at the gates as daylight robbers, forcing the head honchos to back down on the double.
“To be honest, we are all having a hard time this year, and the low season is the wrong time to raise any fees or introduce the double-entry fee. It will make marketing Tanzania a lot harder, because this will spread like wildfire among our main clients abroad. TANAPA entirely lacks the understanding how business works, and as far as I am concerned, they need a complete overhaul at the top,” ranted a regular Arusha-based source.
The Tanzania Association of Tour Operators, aka TATO, and the Tourism Confederation of Tanzania have signaled they will continue to work towards having this added fee rescinded while hoping that ministerial intervention might prevail on TANAPA’s management.