The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has reduced the cost of gorilla tracking permits as two new families of the primates are set to join six others late this year in Bwindi Forest.
In the new arrangement, which aims at getting more tourists to enroll for daily trails, foreign non-residents will now pay $350 (about Shs700,000) from $500 (about Shs1m), foreign residents will pay $250 (Shs500,000) while East Africans will pay Shs100,000 from Shs250,000.
According to the UWA Director General, Dr Andrew Seguya, the animals, in a group of 10-15, are currently undergoing habituation to adapt to human presence in the forest.
Once familiarised, he said, it will increase gorilla permits sold to tourists from 64 to 80 daily.
“Many tourists were missing out on gorilla tracking because there were few permits. This is because the animals get uncomfortable with a presence of many people and they are prone to contracting human diseases, so we tend to allocate a small number of people to view them,” Dr Seguya said.
Each gorilla family is allowed eight visitors a day.
The new tariffs, Dr Seguya said, are only applicable from March to May and October to November when the sales are low.
Gorilla tracking is the highest contributor to revenue earned from tourism, constituting 80 per cent of the total income collected by the sector annually.
Tourism is the second largest revenue generator in the country after remittances from Ugandans living abroad. Last year, according to the World Economic Forum, the sector contributed over Shs1.5 trillion ($660m)–8 per cent contribution to Gross Domestic Product.