Uganda Wildlife Authority has opened the country’s national parks to tourists but under strict guidelines for fear of spreading Coronavirus.
When the country registered her first case of Coronavirus, UWA stopped tourists in its national parks,12 wildlife reserves and 13 sanctuaries to prevent the spread of the virus to the animals.
However, in the latest statement, UWA says that after consultations with all stakeholders, the national perks have been reopened.
“…..after consultations with various stakeholders and putting in place standard operating procedures for the containment of the possible spread of Covid-19 in our protected areas, the savannah parks are now open for tourism,” a statement by UWA said.
“The head office in Kampala is also open to the public who require any of our services.
Uganda Wildlife Authority however said in the statement that primate parks will remain closed to the public until a further notice for fear of spreading the virus to the animals whose DNA is close to that of humans.
According to UWA, all tourism activities within the protected areas shall be undertaken in accordance with guidelines by the Ministry of Health to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
“There should be mandatory temperature screening using non-contact infra-red thermometers at the key tourism gates of the different protected areas and mandatory hand washing and sanitizing at the entrances of all UWA premises and protected areas,” the statement says.
UWA also says that guidelines of carrying half capacity in order to observe social distance shall apply to the use of vehicles and boats in the parks.
“These include concessionaire delivery vehicles. Saloon car vehicles shall not be permitted to carry out game drives activities in the protected areas.”
The new guidelines by UWA have also seen large groups of people exceeding 25 people banned from entering the park at the same time for the same activities whereas events such as destination weddings are currently not allowed in the country’s parks.
“Visitors going to the parks are encouraged to carry their own hand sanitizer and facemask. We have trained our staff and provided them with appropriate wear to protect them and the visitors from any possible infection.”
UWA also says that staff on duty will always sensitize the visitors on the guidelines by government and those developed and approved by management in a bid to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
The latest development will be a sigh of relief to the tourism sector which is among those most affected by the virus.
UWA collects about shs100 billion per year but this will not be realized this time since the national parks were closed due to the virus and the resultant reduction in revenue collection.
Many stakeholders have always cried out to government for a stimulus package to investors in the tourism industry who have greatly suffered because of the Coronavirus lockdown.
President Museveni on Thursday said he was optimistic the number of tourists to the country will grow rapids because of the way government has handled the pandemic.
“By correctly managing the pandemic, the reputation of Uganda will grow in the World. After the pandemic, people will flock here,”Museveni said while giving the State of the Nation Address.