Hosted by Amahoro Tours and organised in cooperation with Linking Tourism & Conservation (LT&C), a workshop was convened June 9 in Musanze, Rwanda, to increase information sharing and cooperation related to LT&C in the trilateral region of the mountain gorilla national parks ”Virunga”, ”Volcanoes” and ”Mgahinga & Bwindi” in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Uganda.
Most known of the Virunga Mountain region is the Virunga national park in DRC. It has been the first national park established once on the African continent, but today it is also the most threatened. When a small LT&C-delegegatiion recently claimed up through dense tropical forest the steep volcano mountain to meet a family of mountain gorillas, it become obvious for us, that such a visit is not only a moving experience in a lifetime, every single visit to the national park certainly contributes to securing the future of the national park and its gorillas. It is therefore also a clear case of tourism supporting a protected area, an LT&C case, which need to be profiled as an LT&C-Example.
It therefore was of high value that we could discuss perspectives of tourism supporting the national parks in the entire three countries region of mountain gorillas at the workshop in Musanze with tourism and conservation experts from DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. Participants represented altogether the following organisations and corporates: LT&C (with delegates from Norway, South Africa, UK, Italy, Uganda and Rwanda), Amahoro Tours (Rwanda), Red Rocks (Rwanda), Pamoja (Rwanda), Travel News Rwanda (Rwanda), Mughing Community Developlment Organization (MCDO; Uganda), African Union For Conservationists (Uganda), CPNCK (DRC) and SANParks (South Africa). Amahoro Tours could on site demonstrate its support and involvement of the local community in its national park related tourism, among other by having established Pamoja, which helps genocide-affected families to overcome severe poverty by professional eco-gardening and producing their own food. Involvement and participation of local communities in national park tourism was a major agenda point of the workshop, which agreed in their Musanze LT&C Memorandum to
- Increase the network-information sharing and -cooperation in the region across borders;
- Encourage profiling, upscaling and replication of functioning examples (including ”LT&C-Examples”) of tourism supporting the safeguarding and management of the national parks as well as community involvement and participation;
- Motivate funders to support projects, which aims to upscale or replicate such functioning examples, in particular, where ”example-providers” partner with a potential ”example replicator”;
- Convince governments, national park authorities and other bodies involved to seek and implement maximum transparency of entrance/gorilla fee-use in order to motivate tourists to spend and be sure the money is used for the management of the parks and proper involvement, participation and benefit of local communities;
- Increase exchange of experience with other multilateral national park cooperations, such as in South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.