East Africa tourism sector investors query Kenya new rates

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Kenya faces a potential loss of business to other East African countries following the decision to increase entry fees to parks starting this year.

In the new charges, which took effect on January 1, Kenyans and other East African Community (EAC) adults will pay $14 to visit urban parks such as Nairobi National Park during peak and low seasons. Children will pay $3.40 as entry fees, up from $1.4.

This is an increase from the $2.80 fee that adults from the EAC were paying to enter the parks.

On the other hand, foreign adults from the rest of Africa will pay $20 while international tourists will be charged about $100.

At different Premium Parks such as the Amboseli and Lake Nakuru National parks adult visitors will pay $7 entry fee during the peak season and $5.50 during low season.

The announcement of new park rates is being implemented less than a year after the Kenyan government introduced the statutory 14 percent value added tax and an extra two percent tourism levy to the Tourism Fund, which stakeholders claim has increased operating costs.

Tourism industry stakeholders have warned Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), the state corporation responsible for conserving and managing national and marine parks, that the move will discourage tourists from visiting the recreational areas.

Travellers Beach Hotel managing director Hillary Siele said the new rates will impact not only tour operators but also hoteliers.

“That was an idea implemented prematurely. There was a need for further public participation on the fees, considering this time when the economy is not doing well,” said Mr Siele.

Mohammed Hersi, a hotelier, said the new charges will discourage tourists from visiting national and marine parks and opt to other countries with similar packages.

“Why spend more in Kenya yet you can get similar services and animals in neighbouring countries? The charges are way above our competitors Tanzania, Rwanda, and South Africa. This will affect our numbers as tourists will opt for those countries since they offer the same packages at a cheaper price which will be a greatest stumbling block to tourism and economic growth,” he said.

Now, Kenya becomes one of the most expensive safari destinations for foreigners, considering Ugandan parks charge between $45 and $60, while Tanzania charges $80 for international tourists.

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