MEFT introduces conservation fee for parks

By Rosalia David

THE Minister of Environment and Tourism (MEFT) has introduced a conservation fee for entry to national and game parks effective as of January 2021.

MEFT chief public relations officer Romeo Muyunda says the conservation fee has been introduced due to the shortfall in resources needed to conserve wildlife and maintain infrastructure in the parks.

“Given that Namibia’s park entrance fees are currently the lowest in the SADC region, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism will introduce payment of a conservation fee, which will be charged to all visitors to national parks and game parks in addition to the existing park entrance fees,” he said.

He further said that these parks are an important part of a national heritage, home to iconic and most precious species and are the bedrock of Namibia’s tourism industry.

“Namibia has not adjusted or increased the park entrance fees since 2005. The combined fee of conservation fee and park entrance fee shall be based on a market related price. The Ministry will consult with stakeholders in the tourism industry before the fee structure is released,” he added.

Muyunda also explained that, the conservation fee will contribute to the Game Product Trust Fund, and will be used for the management and maintenance of infrastructure in national parks and game parks; human wildlife conflict mitigation and preventative measures; and wildlife protection and law enforcement.

He said that, the maintenance and upgrading of infrastructure in the parks is a costly exercise that is currently catered for through the development ministry’s budget.

“In line with the current difficult economic climate, there has been a marked reduction in the ministry’s development budget over recent years. This is manifested by increased vulnerability to poaching and increased cases of human wildlife conflict adjacent to national parks,” he said.

He went on to say that, in the long run, this could harm Namibia’s reputation and competiveness as a tourism destination and can negatively impact the livelihoods of communities living adjacent to national parks, hence the introduction of a conservation fee.