Uganda Wildlife Authority and Uganda Tourism Board have said they will not increase the cost of gorilla permits after neighbours Rwanda doubled the fee from $750 to $1,500.
The $600 charge for a permit in Uganda will remain at the same rate for 12 months, the authorities have promised.
Andrew Seguya, executive director of UWA said: “Gorillas are one of the world’s most valuable natural resources and their conservation is at the forefront of all of UWA’s decisions. Allowing global travellers the opportunity to fulfill lifelong dreams to see these animals is key to their conservation”.
Tim Henshall, who heads up Uganda tourism in the UK, added: “We don’t want to become elitist and allow only a wealthy and highly select few the opportunity to relive that famous David Attenborough moment. Having international tourists staying at a variety of grade hotels and lodges means that locally-owned businesses will benefit”.
And adventure tour operators Acacia Africa said the decision will help Uganda look after its gorillas.
Sales and marketing manager Arno Delport said: “The recent increases in gorilla permits by the Rwandan government will inevitably have a knock on effect on tourism in Uganda where the cost of a permit is now substantially less.
“The percentage of revenue obtained by the use of the gorilla permits contributes to the primates’ survival, the recent baby boom giving hope to conservationists and exciting travellers looking to book this once-in-a-lifetime wildlife experience.
“We feel obliged to our tourism partners worldwide to keep prices stable.”
But Rwanda’s Development Board says the increase in the cost of fees has been made to preserve gorillas and conserve their natural habitat.
Chief tourism officer Belise Kariza said: “The percentage of the permit fee that is returned to local communities, contributing towards the funding of schools, hospitals and libraries, has also doubled to ensure that tourism in Rwanda remains sustainable and gives something back to communities across the country.”
The permit fee in Rwanda applies to everyone, including nationals. Uganda offers a discount for its own nationals.
Stephen Asiimwe, chief executive at UTB added: “Uganda is committed to protecting our natural resources as well as welcoming tourists to view our amazing wildlife.”
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