May 08th, 2017
The Rwanda Development Board today announced an increase in the price of Gorilla Permits from US$ 750 to US $1,500 for all visitors effective immediately. A new exclusive package for tourists who wish to book an entire family of gorillas was also introduced at US$ 15,000, and will receive exclusive personalized tour guide services.
The price increase will not affect tourists who had already purchased their tickets at the time of this announcement.
Tourists who visit other national parks (Nyungwe and Akagera) for a minimum of three days, in addition to gorilla trekking will receive a discount of 30%. Similarly, conference tourists, who stay pre or post conference dates to see gorillas will be eligible for a 15% discount.
In line with Rwanda’s high-end tourism strategy, the price increase aims to strengthen conservation efforts and contribute more to the development of communities living around the Volcanoes National Park.
Along with the new tariff, the tourism revenue sharing rate for communities adjacent to the park, will also increase from 5% to 10%, which will quadruple the absolute revenues received by communities. Over the last 12 years, more than 400 community projects have been completed including hospitals, schools, business development centers and water supply systems to facilitate access to clean water. These projects directly benefit the people living around the parks.
Ms. Clare Akamanzi, the Chief Executive Officer at Rwanda Development Board said:
“Gorilla trekking is a highly unique experience. We have raised the price of permits in order to ensure sustainability of conservation initiatives and enhance visitors’ experience. We also want to make sure that the communities living near the park area receive a bigger share of tourism revenues to fund development projects and empower them economically.”
New, high-end lodges are opening in Musanze and plans are underway to improve visitors’ experience at Kinigi, including renovation of the information center to equip it with modern offices and tourism services such as conservation education, children’s learning space as well as digital facilities.
Mountain gorillas are an endangered species with only around 880 remaining in the world. Of those in in the Virunga Massif, Rwanda accounts for 62% of the gorilla population. Stringent conservation measures have significantly contributed to a rise in gorilla numbers. There are currently 20 families habituated for tourism and research in Rwanda, up from just 9 families in 2010.
In light of this, Uganda Tourism Board responded to rumors that it too will raise the cost of the permit.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has announced that tracking charges will be maintained during the peak season and discounted in low season.
In Uganda, sustainable gorilla tourism is a major contributor to the protection of these endangered animals. Revenues from gorilla permits help to preserve their habitat and 20% of park revenue goes to local communities around the national parks in addition to tourism creating jobs.
“The mountain gorilla population in Uganda has been steadily increasing to about 550 individuals since the 1980s. This shows that our model for gorilla tourism works and both conservation and locals benefit. We therefore have no reason to change anything or increase fees,” explains Dr. Andrew Seguya, Executive Director of UWA.
Between September 2016 and January 2017 alone, there was a real baby boom with a total of five new-born mountain gorillas. This gives hope to conservationists as IUCN lists the mountain gorilla as critically endangered.
“Once you have looked into the eyes of a mountain gorilla, you understand how important it is to protect these primates. It is important, that not only a wealthy minority can get the chance to experience these animals in their natural environment, but everyone who wants to contribute to their conservation. Besides, we feel obliged to our tourism partners worldwide to keep prices stable,” said Stephen Asiimwe, CEO of Uganda Tourism Board.