In a press release by The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) through their website www.rdb.rw dated 6th May 2017, we learned of Rwanda’s decision to double the price of the gorilla tracking permit from US$750 to US$1500 for all visitors with immediate effect. The decision by our neighbors to insurmountably increase the price of their gorilla permit by 100% is based on farfetched research, backed by facts and steered by their country’s tourism strategy.
As Uganda Tour Operators and particularly AUTO, we would like to urge the Government of Uganda through the Uganda WILDLIFE Authority (UWA), the body mandated with conserving and promoting Uganda’s wildlife that Uganda should not blindly follow suit by imposing a sudden raise in the current price of the gorilla permit from the current US$600. As Uganda, we need not to be discriminatory in our pricing but rather systematic and consult with the stakeholders who have greatly marketed UGANDA since Gorilla tourism started.
The immediate change by RDB however does not accord tour operators in the East African region enough time to adapt to the tariffs neither does it allow them to communicate the changes to their clients. The decision to increase the price is discriminatory and presents a challenge for tour operators to honor contracts made with clients based on the previous rate. Price changes are often communicated with enough time in advance with respect to the laws of the market. While it is undeniable that gorilla tracking is a very special activity and the permit fee is largely a ‘conservation supporting fee’ rather than purely a business fee; we believe that it shouldn’t be confined only to the high-end travelers, rather it should be made accessible to every conservation conscious citizen of the world at reasonable rates and in a well-managed manner as has been done before. As Uganda, we must continue to welcome and encourage tourists from around the world to book safaris to Uganda while championing conservation and maintaining the carrying capacities of all our National Parks, conserving our wildlife and sharing the gains from tourism with the local communities along the value chain. We have to safeguard our image as an ecotourism and friendly destination in all aspects.
With more than half of the total world’s population of Mountain Gorillas, we believe that Uganda remains the single best country in the world to enjoy a gorilla safari and we must harness all efforts to attract visitors to Uganda.
The Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) takes this opportunity to welcome ALL tourists wishing to enjoy Gorilla tourism among other activities to visit Uganda the Pearl of Africa.
ASSOCIATION OF UGANDA TOUR OPERATORS (AUTO)