Foreign visitors to Kenya’s game parks will now pay more for the service following a review of fees aimed at boosting the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) conservation efforts and reduce its dependence on the government. (READ: KWS raises park entry charges for foreign visitors)
KWS, the custodian of game parks, has introduced charges that will see the fees increase to $80 (Sh7,520) from a minimum of $60 (Sh5,640) on premium parks with immediate effect.
In a special gazette notice, Forestry and Wildlife minister Noah Wekesa also reviewed the fees structure by eliminating low and high season fees and introduced a flat rate charge in a bid to boost revenues.
Foreign visitors used to pay $60 (Sh5,640) during the low season at the premium parks—Amboseli and Lake Nakuru —and $75 (Sh7,050) during the peak seasons, which runs from January to March and July to October. Dr Wekesa said the review is aimed at boosting KWS coffers to allow it meet its conservation obligations, arguing that the efforts are becoming expensive, causing the state-owned firm to run a huge deficit.
The review comes less than a year after KWS reviewed its fees in January in what led to a 47 per cent increase in its turnover to Sh2.8 billion in the year to June 2010. This came as its expenses rose to Sh4.6 billion from Sh3.7 billion on increased salaries and park maintenance fees—which left it with a deficit of Sh1.54 billion that was plugged by government (Sh860 million), donations (Sh170 million) and donor funding (Sh198 million).
KWS is turning to park fees—which generated 96.4 per cent or Sh2.7 billion of its turnover of Sh2.8 billion—to reduce the deficit and ramp up conservation efforts at a moment when poachers are upping their game.
It is betting on increased tourism numbers, which rose 13.5 per cent to 549,083 from 483,468 in the six months to June, to grow sales in a year that government is forecasting earnings from the sector to hit Sh85 billion from last year’s Sh73.7 billion.
The increment will, however, only affect five top KWS parks, out of the 52 it manages and Kenyans will continue paying Sh500 at premium parks and Sh300 in others.