The Management of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has announced the re-opening of savannah game parks for visitors in a bid to resuscitate the tourism sector which suffered immense devastation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a statement issued on June 05, UWA management has taken a decision to open parks following consultations with various stakeholders.
The statement however notes that all tourism activities within protected areas shall be undertaken in a manner that ensures all guidelines by the Ministry of Health are adhered to.
However, primate parks including Gorilla tracking in the Bwindi and Mgahinga reserves which are the country’s cash cow, remain closed to the public until further notice.
The managers of parks will also undertake mandatory temperature screening for all visitors using non-contact infra-red thermometers, install hand-washing facilities at key entrances to the parks, and crowds in parks have been limited to only 25 people.
Vehicles and boats that carry tourists on game drives within parks will also operate at half normal passenger capacity, while salon cars shall not be permitted to carry out game drives.
Visitors going to parks are encouraged to put on face masks and carry hand sanitizers, while social events such as destination weddings shall not be permitted in parks.
Globally, the tourism industry is one of the sectors which have been hit hard by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic with UWA estimates showing a $1.6BN loss in a period of only 3 months.
With airports and borders yet to be opened, UWA hopes that the tourism industry may take longer to recover owing to the resulting travel restrictions as well as slump in demand among travelers.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization estimated that global international tourist arrivals might decrease by 20–30% in 2020, leading to a potential loss of US$30–50 billion.