Diverse Africa

Discounted rates for locals - is it fair?

68 posts in this topic

Anita, you wrote "See at the end of it, anyone you meet in a camp that has paid significantly less than you, it would always bother a bit there and then".

 

Personally, I do not care if I pay 10-30% more than other guests. When I am in a lodge, I am not trying to find out what my "safari mate" sitting next to me in the car has paid but there are some limits. To be more explicit, a few weeks ago, I saw a package for a few nights in Botswana during the green season (December) for a photographic safari in a very good camp (not Mombo or Little Mombo, but a camp in a category below those camps). The SADC rate was $1500 for the package. It was in line with the usual rates in the WS or Kwando camps during the green season. The extra was having a professional photographer (but not a well known and "expensive" one) during the trip. I asked a quote and expected to get a quote 20-50% higher since I am not a SADC citizen and since it was during the green season. I was quite surprised when they told me that the price for me would be $3750, 2.5 times more than the SADC rate...

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Anita, you wrote "See at the end of it, anyone you meet in a camp that has paid significantly less than you, it would always bother a bit there and then".

 

Personally, I do not care if I pay 10-30% more than other guests. When I am in a lodge, I am not trying to find out what my "safari mate" sitting next to me in the car has paid but there are some limits. To be more explicit, a few weeks ago, I saw a package for a few nights in Botswana during the green season (December) for a photographic safari in a very good camp (not Mombo or Little Mombo, but a camp in a category below those camps). The SADC rate was $1500 for the package. It was in line with the usual rates in the WS or Kwando camps during the green season. The extra was having a professional photographer (but not a well known and "expensive" one) during the trip. I asked a quote and expected to get a quote 20-50% higher since I am not a SADC citizen and since it was during the green season. I was quite surprised when they told me that the price for me would be $3750, 2.5 times more than the SADC rate...

 

They are charging you 2.5 times more to be in the same digital safaris group? They ought to learn a thing or two about marketing........

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I don't mind locals getting discounted rates... I do mind operators bumping up my rates simply because I am foreign...

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Well, It s a very succesfull lodge/group doing lots of marketing. I have checked again the e-mail I received. The SADC price was not $1500 but $1600 for this package in December 2012. My mistake but not a big difference. That camp was included in some special offers (green season) in 2011 and early 2012 and the rates for tourists other than SADC citizens during the green season was in line with that quote. So I expected to benefit from similar conditions for a trip in December. But I confirm that the quote I got was $3750 and the price was apparently imposed by the lodge. I got that quote in November 2012. So they must have had a good idea about the bookings for December. By reading the trip reports of this photographic safari it was mentionned that the camp was not fully booked (rather the opposite). Maybe having been to that lodge twice in the past and having paid the "full price" in the shoulder and high season, they thought that i would pay any price they showed me. But I found it very disappointing.

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@ZaminOz, in that case, i do not think it was the travel operator. I tried to negotiate with them but without success. They had absolutely no flexibility. They told me that the price waas imposed by the lodge.

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Dam2810, I am on the same side as you are -not a citizen or resident of any African country. However there are 2 things here - And Zaminoz has got that perfectly in his one liner ( as usual). I dont mind paying higher rates than locals, but I dont like paying Oh she can afford it premium. What happened with you was more of the latter I think. It has happened to me as well where I was told that because I book PVs (aka she can afford it), the lodges dont think I need to be given a long stay discounts or SS off -That is wrong in my eyes and I just move on - one more camp I wont visit. What else can one do.

 

Frankly, there was a time, before my Aug 2012 Mana trip but after the Bots Dec 2011 one, I had a full 18 nights perfect Botswana plan in mind for November and even pricing etc asked for. And then with just a little bit of back and forth I realised that this is going to be very painful process in terms of where I wanted the pricing to get ( and it wasnt an irrational level) and thank god Mana happened and then I have never felt the urge to go back to Bots. Still will one day maybe.... Anyway I dont know all the reasons that come into play, but this kind of arbit pricing was definitely one of them - and comparing that to a local discount is just one point - Bots is full of example of this kind of pricing even without comparing it to local rates.

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Posted (edited)

bit pointless to jump in here with my two bits, since my two bits have already been said, along with many other bits.

so.... ditto to everyone who thinks it's fine.

 

Ethically, I think it's needed.

Economically, it makes sense for the operators

Edited by armchair bushman
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Sound sense armchair bushmen. On grounds of fairness and equity having holiday destinations which local people cannot afford is a very bad look.

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I have no problems with resident rates, having seen what many people earn they need some help to be able to afford their own parks. As far as locals visiting parks, I have seen some pretty dodgy looking cars driving around Nairobi National Park and Lake Nakuru with people packed inside enjoying the wildlife. They didn't look particularly middle class to me, certainly not as I would see at home. One of my FB friends runs a TA in Nairobi and going by the responses she gets and the photos she shares, most of her clients are local Kenyans and her trips are visiting the cheaper lodges and self catering bandas.

 

So perhaps we won't see many locals staying at our more expensive, small tented camps but I think they're out there enjoying their wildlife in bigger numbers than previously thought. Hopefully, the numbers will increase. It is common to see or hear about conservancies sponsoring school children to visit and that can only be a good thing as if they get hooked by their wildlife they may want to visit other parks and areas with their families.

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One of my FB friends runs a TA in Nairobi and going by the responses she gets and the photos she shares, most of her clients are local Kenyans and her trips are visiting the cheaper lodges and self catering bandas.

 

So perhaps we won't see many locals staying at our more expensive, small tented camps but I think they're out there enjoying their wildlife in bigger numbers than previously thought. Hopefully, the numbers will increase. It is common to see or hear about conservancies sponsoring school children to visit and that can only be a good thing as if they get hooked by their wildlife they may want to visit other parks and areas with their families.

This is good to hear @@twaffle As a foreign visitor I'm always conscious that there are very few 'locals' visiting the reserves. Only in Kenya (Mara) and Lake Nakuru have I seen locals visiting. There were quite a few self drivers in Ruaha too, but not sure who was in these vehicles.

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I don't mind locals paying less, for example having cheaper accommodation options that cater specifically to them, because I feel they should be able to enjoy their own parks. However, I do object to being fleeced because I'm seen as a wealthy westerner. For example, Camera fees in Gujarat (India) are 100Rs per camera per drive in Velavadar for a local (about £1.20) and 540Rs (approx £6.50) for the same if you are tourist.

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Also, I don't think it is fair that locals are charged less than half the price for exactly the same room at a lodge. I have just seen one tarif for a resort where it's $ 290 per person single occupancy for foreigners and only about $125 for single occupancy for nationals.

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yes, it's fair. Here in Hawaii we have what is called kama'aina or local rates with usually big discounts on hotels and activities. Without it, I'd stay at home instead of staying at a hotel on the other side of the island.

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I've been reading this discussion and have a question: is the primary purpose of reduced rates for locals to provide education or is it to keep the camps reasonably full during low periods? Dependent upon which, the answer to the question regarding reduced rates for locals would be different (although the same "at the end of the day").


To play the Devil's Advocate, what has been untouched (so far) in this discussion is that the foreign (read "off-shore") tourist must pay much more just to get to Africa in the first place. While I admit that I am traveling in "our" high season for air travel (summer holidays), it's costing me $2,800 pp round-trip economy from Calgary to Johannesburg, JNB to Cape Town and then return (plus another bit for overnight in New York...mandated by flight schedules). A fair chunk of change on top of the "camp fee" for 2 persons! If I don't take that trip then how will Southern Africa benefit? No camp payments, no tips for staff and guides, no side-trips, no souvenir purchases, no hotel accommodations, no referrals to other potential "customers" no inflow of currency (read "balance of trade").


I would imagine that the local need only hop a 1 to 2-hour flight to be able to access most camps or, if they are very lucky, a few hours driving. Here at home, as a "local" I pay the same rate at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel or to take the Columbia Ice-fields tour or go skiing at Lake Louise as someone from Japan or Scotland would pay....it just costs me a whole lot less to get there (about 3 hours driving and 1/3 tank of gas each way)!


If a camp operator is having difficulty keeping the beds full then maybe there needs to be a method of applying a "last-minute" or seasonal rate that is universal...that would accomplish the same thing without appearing discriminatory or "unfair".


However, if the issue is the education of the African as regards their region's ecology then, although the answer to the original question remains essentially the same (that cut pricing is unfair), the rationale is different. While it is good stewardship (even "critical"), to encourage the education of the Southern African (youth, adult, brown, black, white, rural, urban) as to what natural resources they have and how important it is to conserve and protect those resources, maybe it should be done as a component of the education system (during, say, "low season"...strictly for cost control and/or via mobile, tented tours) rather than in more costly, high-end camps that are bringing vital employment opportunities and an influx of currency to the countries affected OR, perhaps the camp operators should set aside certain periods when they book (and perhaps even subsidize), education groups. This would help foster a sense of ownership and protection for the wild ecology that is so vital to those camp operators.


Just some thoughts...as a mechanical design engineer in training I was taught to always seek the answer to one question before all others... "What is the REAL problem that needs solving?"

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Well said Ed, you have touched on the nub of the issue for me. I think that there is a perception that, just because we can afford to get there, we can afford to pay much more than the locals and therefore the price of park fees, accommodation and sundry other fees are adjusted upwards accordingly with nary a thought as you say of how much we have to scrimp and save to even be in a position to get out to the country in the first place. A few years ago, I had thought that if Africa got too expensive, I would just spend more time visiting India, but even that has gone up substantially in many respects. visa fees doubled, lodges in prime areas charging $500 us per night, camera fees 5.5 x the price of what locals pay. I'm not made of money, a significant portion of my annual salary goes towards these trips with savings being made in other areas. :(

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In my opinion discounted rates are partially intended to make reserves/parks more affordable to the people that live in the country (and are in a different socio-economic strata from the people that can afford to travel from far and wide to visit). I travel from the US and have to scrimp and save to get there and pay for lodges, fees, etc. Presumably I (and many others that travel from Europe, US, Asia, middle east and Australia) have higher levels of disposable income than people living in east or southern Africa. I have no problem what so ever paying more to in effect help subsidize the accessibility of parks for local residents. To hear people from the "first world" (US, Canada, Europe, far east, etc.) state that they are being somehow being treated unfairly because pricing is staggered seems quite callous and self centered.

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But I have to question whether we do, in fact have a higher level of disposable income to those people who live in those countries and who choose to safari there. Because certainly in southern Africa and India, the people I see who are local and who are staying in the same lodges as myself, seem to be of the same or higher socio-economic strata than myself. I don't get the impression that even the discounted rates allow the really local, poorer members of those societies to enjoy their own parks. Nor do I think that these groups of disadvantaged folk have the time to spare to enjoy their parks as they are too busy making ends meet.

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And Beyond India, is offering a pay 2, stay 3 offer for Indian citizens right now ..... Still pretty steep their price point

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Having seen a couple of posts recently relating to SADC and resident discounts, what do you feel the market is doing at the moment in terms of encouraging those perhaps wavering between booking a safari and some other experiential holiday, or leaving it till "last minute" to book? Should there be greater discounts on a sliding scale based on occupancy, the need to get bums on seats as it were, to enourage last minute clients? Should there be more discounts for overseas travellers rather than SADC resident discounts?

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If you are an operator/agent or represent a property please feel welcome to add your views...

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GW, I think in East Africa they offer really good rates/specials even for overseas guests (atleast compared to normal rates).

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Posted (edited)

It would be appreciated if the rates overall were lower

 

this is not likely to happen, so I think it is desireable to give residents' discounts as having places priced so none of the local people could stay there would be unjust, a very bad look

 

Kenya is nearly always priced in USD and often priced up with the most elaborate offerings that rules it out for sth Africans except the very highest paid

Edited by COSMIC RHINO

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We just sit around and wait for special deals. Like Groupon etc. - thats the only way we managed to afford Madikwe, the Queen Mary etc. The result of this is that we are leaving our trip planning to the very last minute. When I see people planning for 2016 already, I smile.

 

Many safari destinations simply cannot afford to offer deals suitable to South Africans, as even if they drop below their cost, its too expensive.

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the residents rates are still expensive

 

looking at online chili and peacock Kenya offerings on 7 camps only 1 oct to 20 dec 2014 were between KSH 11,500 and KSH 24.500 per person per day

 

the current conversion is about 103 to 1 USD

 

add on reserve fees of USD 105 per person per day for Lewa , for other areas I am not sure but they are not cheap

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Posted (edited)

I happen to be one of the 'locals' (Kenya based) being mentioned here and can I say I am quite surprised to see the opinions leaning toward supporting lower rates for local tourists. I agree with the reasons given here so I won't add on to them.

 

However I do disagree with some of the crazy prices I see foreign tourists being charged, it's enough to make me wince sometimes. Even though there is a disparity, charging someone 2 or 3 times the rate simply because they are not rersident in a county is ridiculous.

 

You have a camp or lodge, you know what it costs for every visitor you have, then you have your mark up. So now you have 2 choices, try to fill empty beds in order to turn a profit at the end of the year, or have empty beds and try to squeeze every last dollar from the few guests you have. Unfortunately i think most operate on the latter basis.

Edited by TheKenyanCamper
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