Rwanda has announced it is doubling the price of gorilla permits from $750 to $1,500 for all visitors, effective immediately. The price increase will not affect tourists who had already purchased their tickets at the time of this announcement. Permits are necessary for anyone interested in gorilla-trekking in the country.
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 attendees who include pre- or post-conference stays to see gorillas will be eligible for a 15% discount.
The Rwanda Development Board said 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.
Clare Akamanzi, CEO 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."
Industry leaders have warned, however, that although the initiative to help the communities is remarkable, it might push the more price-conscious traveler to opt for Uganda instead of Rwanda.
The Ugandan government has announced it will not increase the price of gorilla-trekking permits for the next 12 months. The permits will remain at $600 per person during peak season and $450 in the low season.
Said Uganda Tourism Board CEO Stephen Asiimwe: "We think it is important that not only a wealthy minority can get the chance to experience these animals in their natural environment but [also] everyone who loves gorillas and wants to contribute to their conservation."
John Spence, president of Scott Dunn USA, said: "The increase in the gorilla permit pricing is somewhat of a mixed blessing, but it presents the traveler with two clear options between Rwanda and Uganda. The increased cost will prevent many people from achieving the bucket-list experience of gorilla-trekking in Rwanda, but it positions Rwanda as the leader in luxury trekking experiences. However, if you're after more adventure, Uganda is your calling. The trek to see the friendly giants here is a little harder but available at a more affordable price."