The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Tuesday withdrew a notice increasing park fees by up to 300 percent for Kenyans across the country from July following public uproar.
KWS said in a statement that the higher fees had been suspended. Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala earlier termed the Business Daily report of the park fees hike misleading.
The March 30 notice announcing the date when the new higher rates would take effect was linked to an October 18 notification from Mr Balala.
The higher fees drew protest from Kenyans on social media who argued that the timing was wrong, citing the effect of coronavirus-related travel restrictions on Kenya’s tourism sector.
“This is to inform the public that KWS in consultation with Ministry of Tourism has suspended the implementation of the new rates until further notice due to the prevailing circumstances occasioned by the coronavirus,” said KWS in a statement.
Kenya has confirmed 172 cases of the coronavirus pandemic that has hit the tourism sector with the borders closed and social distancing rules prompting hotel shutdowns.
The new rates were to see locals pay Sh1,500 to visit Lake Nakuru and Amboseli national parks during the peak period and Sh800 during the off-peak period, up from the current Sh500. This reflected a 300 percent rise.
The Peak is between July and March and low season between April and June. Entry fees for locals in the Nairobi National Park were to go up to Sh1,500 and Sh800 during peak and off peak seasons respectively, up from Sh300.
Meru Park, Aberdare, Mt Kenya, Tsavo charges were to jump from Sh350 to Sh1,000 during the peak season and Sh400 the rest of the time.
Foreigners were to pay $70 in Nairobi National Park up from $40 in peak season, with off-peak rates remaining unchanged at $40.
At Amboseli and Lake Nakuru peak entry fees for foreigners were to be cut to $70 from the current $80 while off-peak charges were to drop from $60 to $40.