Foreign visitors to Kenya’s game parks will from next week have dig deeper into their pockets following the gazettement of new fees.
Kenya Wildlife Service, the custodian of game parks, has introduced charges that will see the fees increase to $75 (Sh6,000) from $60 (Sh4,800) from January 1.
The change is expected to help in driving the organisation’s conservation and re-branding projects.
In a special gazette notice, Forestry and Wildlife minister Noah Wekesa refers to the charges as ‘conservation fees’ instead of the usual ‘park entry fees’.
“Conservation is an expensive exercise that constantly demands more resources to maintain infrastructure,” a statement from KWS following the announcement of the new fees, said.
Stakeholders in the sector have been meeting KWS over the increment, fearing it could make Kenya a less lucrative destination.
“We were not keen on the increment,” said Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO) chief executive, Fred Kaigua, adding that the country was highly priced compared to neighbours.
The move is expected to see other attractions in the country increase their prices, especially game reserves and conservancies such as Maasai Mara and Mara Conservancy.
The new structure has seen KWS introduce low and high season fees, unlike the current flat rate in a bid to encourage travel during the slower months.
KWS identifies April to June and November to December as the low seasons while January to March and July to October as peak seasons.
KWS head of marketing and business development Ms Reece Musumba in a previous interview said the move was made to “maximise during the peak period” but also encourage visitation during the low season.
The increment will, however, only affect five top KWS parks, out of the 52 it manages.
Amboseli and Lake Nakuru will be the most expensive at $75 (Sh6,000) in 2011 while the wilderness parks — Meru, Tsavo East and Tsavo West — will only change during the high season to $60 (Sh4,800) next year and $70 (Sh5,600). During the low season the price remains $50.
Kenyans will continue paying Sh500 at premium parks and Sh300 in others.
Safari is a major component of the country’s tourism sector with KWS placed to gain from visitors travelling to the national parks to watch game.
The sector is expected to close the year on a high of 1.2 million international arrivals with earnings estimated to hit Sh100 billion.
Growth in the sector has mainly been attributed to increased marketing as well as moving into new markets.
“We are among the beneficiaries of the increased number of international arrivals, they have helped us recover,” said Paul Udoto, the KWS communications manager, adding that the domestic market has also been vibrant. KWS has been opening up new tourist circuits in the country with the rebranding and restocking of national parks.