Uganda Wildlife Authority has released a host of incentives aimed at reviving the tourism sector that has been greatly affected by the Coronavirus pandemic that hit the world.
Following the announcement of lockdown in March by government, several restrictions were put on international travel, closure of the country’s borders and Entebbe International Airport.
Whereas tourism provided 12% of the country’s taxes in 2019 , 7.7% of the country’s GDP and 670,000 Ugandans were employed directly by the sector, all this was almost crippled by the measures to curb the spread of the virus.
President Museveni recently said the tourism sector lost $1.6 billion due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
However, following the easing of the lockdown UWA announced the opening of parks for tourism but with several operating procedures to be followed by tourists to avoid the spread of the virus in the protected areas as part of the efforts to resume tourism.
In the latest measures, fees for several activities in the various savannah parks have been greatly slashed as one of the ways to revive tourism activities.
“The objective of these initiatives is to increase park visitation in the immediate term but also attract foreign nationals when the international travel ban is lifted,” says UWA Executive Director, Sam Mwandha.
Pay for 2 days, get one free
As part of the incentives, visitors who pay park entrances for two days will be given an extra free day in the national parks.
This means a visitor will spend three days in any of the country’s savannah parks for the price of only two days.
“This offer is for savannah parks, forest parks and wildlife reserves,” Mwandha says of the incentive that commenced late last month.
Uganda Wildlife Authority has also provided commission for tour operators who bring visitors to the country’s parks.
According to the incentive, in every 30 permits purchased by tour operators, two free gorilla permits will be given out.
“One permit of these will be a commission to the tour operator who purchased the permit and the second to the Association of Tour Operators where he/she is a member,”UWA says, adding that only permits purchased after June 30 are eligible for the incentive.
Promotional permits for marketing purposes
According to the UWA boss, they will continue offering promotional complimentary permits to Uganda Tourism Board and Association of Uganda Tour Operators to enable them continue marketing and promoting the country’s Savannah parks by bringing in agents and public relations firms to the country.
Buy gorilla permit, visit other parks
Mwandha says that for every gorilla permit bought, a client receives free entry for one day each to Mt.Elgon national parka or Toro Semliki wildlife reserve and the visit is supposed to be carried out in one round visit across the country.
This incentive is effective for two years until June 30, 2022.
In the latest incentives to revive the tourism sector, fees for nature walks have been reduced by 50% from $30 to $15 for foreign nationals and foreign residents in Uganda for Murchison falls national park, Kidepo valley national park, Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo natioal parks and Kapkwal exploration cnetre in Mt.Elgon national park .
For East African citizens will only pay shs10,000 for the incentive that will run for two years until June 2022.
Filming fees have also been drastically reduced to enable more filming and creation of material for marketing the country’s savannah parks .
Fees are now at 40% cost of the product being filmed for normal filming and photography whereas the charge is 50% of the product if it is to be done by drone.
For Mt.Elgon national park, hiking fees a 20% discount has been given for groups of 20 people and above for a period of two years until June 2022.