‘COME TO UGANDA TO TRACK GORILLAS‘ SAY TOURISM OPERATORS IN RESPONSE TO RWANDA DOUBLING PERMIT FEES
(Posted 08th May 2017)
One’s loss is another one’s gain comes to mind as Uganda’s tourism industry is now strategizing how to best benefit from Rwanda’s decision to raise gorilla permit fees, with not notice at all, from the previous 750 US Dollars per person to 1.500 US Dollars per person.
With an avalanche of comments received from the tourism private sector in Rwanda – notably none wishing to go on record though or be quoted – condemning the move in the sharpest terms was an equal number of comments received from Ugandan operators since the news was broken here 24 hours ago.
The initial feedback from across the spectrum of Uganda’s tour operators was incredulity, some accusing this correspondent to peddle fake news before it sank in that indeed Rwanda had pulled the carpet from underneath its gorilla tourism business.
Thereafter it was all enthusiasm as Ugandan operators smelled the proverbial blood in the water and were hastily starting to approach their overseas clients with their own news that gorilla tracking in Uganda remained user friendly with pocket friendly tariffs, including the present 450 USD fee for the month of May and again for the month of November this year.
Said one regular contributor, again on condition of anonymity: ‘Whatever triggered this decision, and I read your blog and the RDB statement, we can now benefit from it. Uganda should be able to sell permits like hot cakes because of the huge price differential. In the low season, say November, visitors can buy three permits in Uganda and still have some change in their pocket compared to the 1.500 US Dollars Rwanda will charge per person. The Rwandans may reverse it, or not, but for sure will we in Uganda now go flat out to sell our services to see the same species of mountain gorillas at much better prices. And let UWA not dare to suddenly also change tariffs because we here in Uganda will fight them tooth and nail, we are not meek sheep! This is a big bonus for the Ugandan tourism sector and whether it was a willing gift or not by Rwanda, we shall take it without questions asked‘.
Another cited the shift from one East African safari market to another in the past over the addition of VAT on tourism services, or else when the respective governments eventually abandoned that move again, saying that price does matter and there is a limit what the market can accept.
Others took issue with the no notice given announcement from Kigali, saying it will only enrage overseas operators who may be legally bound to pay for the increases from their own pockets due to contractual obligations before being able to adjust published safari package prices.
No official comments, over and above the initial statement from RDB 24 hours ago were received though on social media did high ranking staff of RDB confirm the tariff increase by simply stating: ‘Hi all. Yes the tariff has changed to 1500 usd‘.
Details about fully licenced tour and safari operators can be obtained from the Secretariat of AUTO, the Association of Uganda Tour Operators which website is www.auto.or.ug