Cash-strapped KWS lists new drone, car parking, bush parties fees in revenue race


Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has introduced charges for activities like the use of drones and video shooting in parks. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has introduced charges for activities like use of drones, shooting videos and lion tracking in the race to grow revenues.

The cash-strapped State agency will charge Sh5,000 each for use of drones and shooting of videos for commercial reasons. Lion tracking and participating in KWS research activities and census will cost Sh10,000.

Visitors not using cars for game drives will also start paying Sh300 parking fee per day at parks including Nairobi National Park, Malindi, Mombasa, Shimoni, Longonot, Hells Gate, Lake Nakuru.

KWS is seeking to grow its revenues amid expanding tourism experiences among travellers especially the young people turning to social media to make videos for a living.

The parks will also be open for people who would want to visit for dinner or breakfast and not residing within. Previously, this experience has been available to those booked in the lodges.

“Sundowner, bush breakfast, bush dinner for park visitors not residing within the parks or reserve will be charged at Sh1,000 per person,” it added.

KWS has in the past two years faced a drop in revenues in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic that cut tourist numbers and income from park entry fees.

This forced the Treasury to offer KWS a Sh1.5 billion bailout to pay salaries and conduct animal census.

KWS is also seeking €25 million (Sh3.1 billion) from French fund Agence Française de Développement (AFD) for the improvement of five national parks -Nairobi, Lake Nakuru, Mt Kenya, Meru, and Watamu Marine National Park.

Visitors will now be allowed to participate in scheduled lion, rhino and elephant research activities carried out by the Wildlife Research and Training Institute.

A guided hippo census will be charged at Sh5,000 per person for both Kenyans and East African community residents

The wildlife conservation agency has also added night nature walk at Nairobi Safari Walk, Animal Orphanage, Saiwa Swamp, Elementeita, and Kakamega National Reserve at Sh1,500.

Some of the activities previously conducted for free will now be charged such as entry to Elephant Orphanages in KWS parks or reserves and sanctuaries, guided nature walks and bird watching at Sh300 per person.

The parks have been undertaking boot camps for children, but this has been extended to include adults in a minimum group of 15 who will be charged Sh2,000 per person. Tourists can also experience a warden’s lecture and pay Sh3,000 per group of minimum 10 people.

The new rates are expected to reduce KWS reliance on the Treasury whose support accounts for about a third of its income.

KWS is tapping into the new charges to support shifting to online ticketing and digital payment across and strengthening security within the conservation areas.

It recently hiked park charges in January, after suspension last year following a public uproar to generate additional income to run national parks.

The new prices will run on a seasonal basis, with the new rates being applied during the high season from July to February and discounted rates for the low season between March to June.

The tourism industry recorded Sh146.51 billion earnings in 2021 compared to Sh88.56 billion in 2020 and is projected to increase to Sh172.89 billion this year.

[email protected]