Uganda reopens national parks for tourism amid COVID-19

Uganda has reopened its national parks for tourism amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a state-run conservation agency said.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) said in a statement that all the savannah national parks are open for tourism after standard operating procedures have been put in place to avoid the spread of COVID-19 in the protected areas.

“All tourism activities within the protected areas shall be undertaken in a manner that ensures all guidelines of the ministry of health and the directives of His Excellency the President are adhered to,” the statement said.

The UWA said primate parks, however, remain closed to the public until further notice.

The conservation agency said there will be mandatory temperature screenings of tourists at all the key gates of the protected areas. Hand sanitizing and social distancing will be adhered to in vehicles and boats in the parks.

Large groups exceeding 25 tourists shall not be permitted in the parks at the same time for the same activity, according to the UWA.

Although the parks are open, the country’s borders, including Entebbe International Airport, remain closed as one of the government measures to avoid importing COVID-19 cases.

Tour operators in the country are now focusing on increasing domestic tourism after international travel was interrupted by the pandemic.

Tourism is one of Uganda’s leading foreign exchange earners. The country’s President Yoweri Museveni on Thursday said the country would lose over 1.6 billion U.S. dollars in tourism revenue because of COVID-19.