Starting this July, you will have the option to visit a Kenyan national park in during the high season or the low season. The slightly pricier high season will start from July 1 to February 28. March 1 to June 30 will mark the cheaper low season. This year’s rates which went into effect on July 1 have also generally gone up from previous years.
The reason KWS introduces seasons in the parks now is to encourage round-the-year visitation. The service says seasonality significantly affects its ability to generate steady revenue from the protected wildlife areas. The seasonal nature of tourists to the parks means certain months in the year may not register meaningful traffic. By introducing seasonality, variable products with different pricing are possible to develop and market.
KWS manages about eight per cent of Kenya’s total landmass – twenty-three National Parks, twenty-eight National Reserves and four National Sanctuaries. Kenya’s four Marine National Parks and six Marine National Reserves at the Coast also fall under KWS’s management.
With KWS accounting for ninety per cent of safari tourism and about seventy-five per cent of total tourist earnings in Kenya, you begin to understand why getting a grip on the seasonality situation is such a big deal. Even as it explores other revenue streams from Eco tourism, Cultural tourism and bird tourism among others, parks remain its largest cash cow.
Challenges and Solutions
As KWS introduces seasons to its pricing, there are challenges. The greatest, according to its National Wildlife Conservation Status Report, remains encroachment. Invasive species, poaching and infrastructure development are the others. The solution starts with having wildlife management plans in place. The plans highlight key issues affecting each wildlife area and suggested actions. At the time of publishing this post, only three protected areas in the country have gazetted management plans. Out of the two hundred and forty-five planned species recovery plans, only thirty-one have been developed. In contrast, thirteen have since expired.
In 2015, KWS became the second country in Africa after South Africa to apply Wildlife DNA
forensic analysis in wildlife law enforcement. DNA forensic analysis assists in the provision of accurate
data to strengthen the prosecution of wildlife crimes.
So as you plan to visit a national park soon, consider your season. What is your season?