Thursday August 15 2013

Kidepo national park posts growth in visitor numbers

By Martin Ssebuyira


Kidepo Valley National Park has registered significant growth in visitor bookings uplifting the park’s revenues.
The park’s area conservation manager, Johnson Masereka, said they are getting more visitors and revenue that is bound to benefit Uganda’s economy.

“Kidepo is not what it was five years ago where we could hardly get 100 tourists a year. Today, the visitors’ population has more than doubled and the park’s revenue has improved drastically,” he said.

He added said that they received about 2,100 visitors in years 2009/10 fetching about Shs294 million that has since risen to about 2,300 visitors in 2010/11 fetching Shs384 million.
“In the 2012/13 financial year, the park received 2,700 visitors fetching Shs466 million and the figure is likely to triple because we have collected Shs70 million in the last one month,” he added.

Kidepo Valley National Park had of the recent suffered from poaching, cattle rustling, tribal rivalry, disarmament and political turmoil, which had crippled the park’s operations in much of the 2000s .

Mr Masereka said as they hold activities to mark the park’s 50th anniversary, they need to engage in aggressive marketing to bring in more visitors.
“We want by close of next year to collect over Shs750 million.”
The park is known for its wildlife sighting that exudes a high level of exclusivity.

Ms Ingrid Nyonza Nyakabwa, the Uganda Wildlife Authority marketing manager, said the agency is working with organisations like Usaid to upgrade the Kidepo National park.
“Usaid is running a four-year project to construct more trails in the park and we are running adverts to change people’s mind set on Kidepo because it’s a secure area,” she said.
Currently the park is running a promotion with only Shs10,000 charged as entrance fees.