Nakuru Residents Public Participation forum on reviewing conservation fees by KWS
Written by Jeremy Ogolla
Nakuru County today led tourism stakeholders in a public participation exercise that could see conservation fees set by the Kenya Wildlife Services either increased or reduced.
Tourism and Culture Chief Officer (CO) madam Rosemary Wambui said Nakuru residents and tourism stakeholders are much affected when the conservation fees are raised especially when they don’t get value for money.
She thus called on the KWS to consider some of the proposals raised by the stakeholders and the public during the forum.
“We believe the KWS is going to improve on the parks, the sanctuaries and also the scenic parks because as Nakuru residents we all believe in the conservancy and protecting our natural ecosystem, so nobody wants to destroy but how can we all have value for money in what we are doing,” said CO Trade.
The fees charged by KWS range from park fees, camping fees, and Conferences fees among other charges like vehicle fees, aircraft, boats and fees on special services and activities.
The CO said as a county government under the leadership of H.E Governor Susan Kihika, plans are underway to see how locals can benefit from the park, reiterating that tourism’s positive ripple effect not only helps support local businesses but fosters entrepreneurship and new business ventures especially the artisans operating the curio shops along the tourism sites and even the town centre.
Madam Rosemary who was speaking during the forum however called on all the tourism stakeholders to help package and market Nakuru County as a tourism product, since the county is well endowed with vast tourism sites.
“I would encourage stakeholders from the tourism industry, Nakuru residents and Kenyans as a whole, lets treasure, let’s move and know our county and country at large in terms of its tourism potentials. You see a lot of people in Nakuru have not been to the park, I would encourage them to be more adventurous, instead of just sitting down and enjoying their beer let them enjoy the natural attraction sites,“ said Madam Rosemary.
Tourism helps accelerate the integration of innovative technologies, which can help stakeholders and locals to facilitate their everyday activities while enhancing sustainability and creating more touchless experiences.
Jane Karanja, chair of the Great Rift Valley Association of Tours Operators (GRATO) expressed optimism that KWS is going to take into consideration their views, especially on the charges and also on improving the parks, sanctuaries and scenic points in Nakuru County.
Tourism can help protect and revitalise wildlife through preservation programmes against illegal poaching and creates conservation jobs.
“It was interesting to see that KWS is also adding up to do the conservation activities because we should look at how the ecosystem as a whole should be used sustainably without destruction,“ said the GRATO chair.
On tapping on domestic tourism, madam Jane called on the KWS to lower the rate for domestic tourists saying it beats the logic for a local tourist to pay high yet some of the parks are currently closed due to the rising water level.
Meanwhile, the tourism stakeholders expressed optimism that the tourism industry within Nakuru County will roar back to its glory after being negatively affected by the COVID-19 menace.
During the public participation, KWS officials thanked the stakeholders for their participation and deliberations saying the concerns raised will be put into consideration.
The forum was attended by KWS Officials, tourism stakeholders, students and members of the public.
One of the core functions of KWS is to provide wildlife education and extension services to the public for their support in wildlife conservation.
This contributes to the overall KWS mandate in terms of enhancing wildlife conservation, protection, and management, improving KWS’s linkages, recognition and relationships with stakeholders.