Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Rwanda and Uganda tour operators respond to sudden increase in Rwanda gorilla permit fees

Statement by Rwanda Tours & Travel Association (RTTA) on the Price Increase for Gorilla Permits

7 May 2017

Click to read RTTA's press release
As close partners of RDB, the private sector has always been keen to work closely with RDB to ensure a sustainable growth of our tourism industry.

Regarding the decision to increase permits, RTTA understands the need to ensure tourism  does not negatively affect the gorillas and we support any efforts to protect our endangered species and their habitat and in particular, the revenue sharing scheme increment from 5% to 10%. We acknowledge the invaluable contribution communities make in protecting the gorillas and other national parks, including Nyungwe, Akagera and Volcanoes.

However, we believe an immediate doubling of gorilla permits will be taken negatively by the markets, will affect our businesses and the whole tourism value chain (hotels, restaurants, crafts, transportation, community based tourism initiatives etc) and we risk losing substantial revenue for the industry and government as a whole. Currently, a number of gorilla permits are already not sold in low season and with the sudden hike in prices we need to ensure  permit sales do not decline further.

Introducing this increase of gorilla permits from USD $750 to $ 1500 for all including Rwandans and EAC residents in the middle of the year, without formal and proper private sector consultations makes it harder for us and international suppliers to manage this sudden and abrupt change. International travel agents publish prices a year in advance  and  this sudden change will not be well received and we are afraid and worried of its impacts on our relationships, professionalism and reputation with the international markets, suppliers and clients.

As partners and stakeholders who directly deal with international and regional markets, suppliers and clients, and in the spirit of our public-private partnership, it would have been better to be consulted and involved in this decision making. We however remain optimistic that together we can work out a smooth transition and a better grace period which will ensure that everyone is well informed and prepared for this new pricing decision.




Click to read Association of Uganda
Tour Operator's statement
In a press release by The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) through their website 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.


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