Namibia: tour operators unhappy with hiking park fees
Tour operators WALVIS Bay and Swakopmund in Sandwich Harbor and Namib-Naukluft Park and surrounding areas are unhappy with the increase in entrance fees to national parks announced by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Tourism earlier this year.
Operators met with ministry officials last week at municipal chambers in Kuisebmond to discuss the issue.
According to ministry spokesman Romeo Muyunda, the fees have been increased this year to be on par with the rest of the southern African region.
“Namibia’s rates are very low compared to the rest of the region. Additionally, funding from these fees should be used to help improve park and wildlife management… for the development of national parks such as Etosha National Park, which is in need of fencing. “Muyunda said at the meeting.
He said the last increase in park fees was about 10 years ago.
Fees have been reduced this year from N $ 10 to N $ 50 for Namibians and N $ 30 to N $ 50 for Southern African Development Community (SADC) citizens.
Vehicles are now charged a N $ 50 entry fee to national parks, and international visitors will pay N $ 100.
Kenneth Kapitako, owner of Sandwich Dune Tours and Safari, told the meeting he wrote to the ministry in April asking them to reserve the new park fees for a minimum of 12 months in the hope that the international market would reopen.
“A 400% increase in fees is high. This will obviously discourage locals from visiting the parks and will also make local tour packages unaffordable,” he said.
He also asked the ministry to consider lowering park fees during the low season.
Christof Marais of Levo Tours in Walvis Bay said he could barely stay afloat.
Marais had to close his offices in September of last year because the pandemic affected his income, he now operates from home.
He said the sudden increase in fees would affect their operations as customers made their 2021/22 reservations in advance.
He called on the ministry to give tour operators a six-month grace period to notify their international agencies of price increases and to re-quote them.
“The park fees are so high, we obviously underestimated them… It’s not worth giving them tours at this price,” Marais said.
Manie le Roux, a monitoring director at the ministry, said part of the increase in park fees would go to conservation.
“This money can be viewed by the management of the parks,” he said.