Gorilla tourism operators in Rwanda and Uganda have raised concerns that the latest surge in parks admission prices could damage the important ecotourism industry in the country. The news park fees have been increased by 50% for foreign tourists, foreign residents and the East African travelers.
The new fees for gorilla trekking Rwanda announced by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) will see the admission price for overseas tourists rise from $500 to $750 and $ 600 from $ 500 for Uganda Gorilla Trekking safaris but those who have already paid for their gorilla tour should see no surcharges as pre-booked places are being honored at the old admission charge.
This increase comes at a time when there is significant growth of the gorilla population as well as an increasing demand for gorilla tourism.
All 3 categories of Rwanda and Uganda wildlife parks fees increase by 50%. Other park admission fees are also going up with foreigners who are resident in Rwanda seeing their fees increase from $250 to $325 and Rwanda national’s prices increasing from $33 to $50. With Uganda parks increased from $ 35 to $ 40 dollars
The gorilla tour operators are concerned that the latest steep price increases could make them uncompetitive in the marketplace. If the gorilla tours do become too expensive in the current economic climate this could have a devastating impact on the country’s tourism industry as a whole.
Gorilla tours in Rwanda and Uganda set to increase substantially in price.Gorillas are Rwanda’s and Uganda’s top tourist draw. People visiting mountain gorillas are the source for 90% of the country’s wildlife parks admission fees. The gorilla industry made a major contribution to the tourism income which has seen a steady growth over recent years.
In 2011 it has been estimated that tourism was worth $251 million to the country up from $200 million in 2010 which in turn was 14% higher than 2009.
The parks department has defended the increase in the fees by confirming their commitment to protecting the biodiversity of the country’s national parks and the protection of the gorillas.
Gorilla tourism and populations are increasing.Officials point to the growing demand for gorilla tours and an increasing population of the endangered great apes. Since 2005 populations of the mountain gorillas in Rwanda have increased by over 25%.
“This increase comes at a time when there is significant growth of the gorilla population as well as an increasing demand for gorilla tourism. We are very committed to sustain our efforts in conservation in order to protect their environment as well as the rich biodiversity that exist in our national parks.”
The head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB Rica Rwigamba explained, “We have seen a sustained increase in interest for gorilla trek as well as recognition that good conservation can truly contribute to growth of these species. Mountain Gorillas are the only increasing gorilla species population, which is evidence that responsible tourism and conservation go hand in hand.”
Whether the other two countries with mountain gorillas will follow the lead of Rwanda and increase prices is not yet known. But the new prices do make Rwanda substantially more expensive than Uganda fees of $500 and DR Congo at $400.