Has KWS Raised Park Fees for Kenyans Due to COVID-19?

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A report by the Business Daily, a leading business-focused publication from the Nation Media Group, posted on August 31 claimed that the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) had raised park fees by up to 60% for Kenyans and cut the charges paid by foreigners.

Piga Firimbi has found this claim to be false.

Background

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected various sectors of the Kenyan economy negatively. One of the hardest-hit sectors is the travel and tourism industry, in terms of job loses brought about by travel restrictions put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. By the end of June, Kenya had lost over Kshs 80 billion in tourism revenue.

During this year’s national Labour Day celebrations, President Uhuru Kenyatta called on Kenyans to help in rescuing the tourism industry by taking their holidays locally for the next one year, urging them to visit Kenyan hotels and parks.

Verification

The article quotes the figures shown in the screenshot below as the new park fees. These figures are false.

The KWS clarified on the issue of new park entry fees stating, via their official Twitter handle, that they were in fact slashed, both for local and foreign tourists, to encourage visitations to national parks. These changes were effected on July 1, 2020.

The Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, Najib Balala, reduced the entry fees to all KWS national parks and game reserves for all categories of tourists (local, residents and international) effective July 1, 2020, for one year.

At the same time, KWS has given a one-year moratorium to lodge owners in its parks and reserves, for rent payment starting July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021. The changes were attributed to the current economic crisis arising from the COVID 19 pandemic.

CS Balala also announced a 50% discount on filming fees for both local and international producers filming in parks and reserves, and local and foreign tourists who visit premium wildlife sanctuaries like Nairobi, Amboseli, Lake Nakuru, Tsavo East and West National Parks, will benefit from a 47% reduction on entry fees in line with the new changes.

The KWS urged Kenyans to ignore reports that it has increased its rates.

The new fees are also available on the KWS website.

Subsequently, the publication has pulled the story with an editor’s note advising that a corrected version will be published.

Verdict

The claim that KWS has increased its park entry fees by 60% for Kenyans and cut the charges paid by foreign nationals is FALSE.

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Peris Gachahi

Peris Gachahi is a reporter at Africa Uncensored.She is passionate about human interest stories told through in-depth documentaries, data stories and digital storytelling.