The National Tourism Office has put in place a new policy on how to share revenue with communities surrounding national parks. The ORTPN Director General, Chantal Rugamba, said, “We have been dispatching a certain percentage of money to local communities around the three national parks, but not in a proper way. That’s why we have opted to draw accurate policies and guidelines for proper operation,” she said while opening a two-day consultative meeting at Hotel Umubano.
Without disclosing how the guideline would be applied, Rugamba said the new guidelines will support local projects that enhance community conservation through revenue sharing. The exercise of sharing revenue with the communities started in 2002 but without guidelines on how funds can be shared.
In similar developments, Fedile Ruzigandekwe, the Executive Director of Wildlife Agency – ORTPN revealed that the real revenue sharing exercise kicked-off early this year with Frw42 million set for local communities in eight districts bordering the three national parks.
“We expect proficient policies and guidelines from the participants in this workshop to help the public understand the essence of revenue sharing,” Ruzigandekwe said.
Phil Franks, a tourism consultant from Kenya, said the aim of revenue sharing is to promote more equitable share of the cost and benefits from conserved tourism resources. “There has to be an effective tourism revenue sharing with people living around the protected areas for them to conserve the available resources,” Franks said, adding that proper community conservation programs based on revenue sharing enable citizens to have persistent trust in protected areas.
He urged ORTPN to focus on the community-based agricultural improvement programmes and the trust support for community projects. “This would reduce their (locals) demand on national park resources,” the expert said.