As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Uganda: Birds or Gorillas - Which Tourism Activity Brings in More Revenue?

Birds are increasingly becoming the main creature flying Uganda's tourism industry high.

Conservationists and tour operators who have monitored the sector for some time now say birders spend more than gorilla tourists.

According to Achilles Byaruhanga, executive director at Nature Uganda, on average a birdwatcher spends not less than $4,000 (about Shs 10.3m at the current exchange rate) per trip compared to other travellers whose spending stands at $1,500 (about Shs 3.8m).

Statistics by Nature Uganda show that in 2008, less than 2,000 birders spent about $6m (about Shs 15.5bn), nearly twice the $3.3m (Shs 8.5bn) spent on gorilla tracking in Uganda - with the average spending for a birder standing at $3,000 (Shs 7.7m) per trip compared to other travellers at $700 per trip.

The explanation for this high spending by birders is that whereas both gorillas and birds attract high-end travellers, birders stay longer in the country. "The best birding itinerary is not less than 14 days, yet a gorilla tourist spends at most three days in the country," says Byaruhanga.

Of the three days, two are spent on the road to or from Kampala and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park (where gorilla tourism is currently done), a distance of about 460km from the capital Kampala. In fact some tourists prefer chartering a plane from Entebbe to Bwindi to track the gorilla in a single day and catch the next flight back to their country.

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