In an effort to gauge the appropriate entrance and conservation fees for three southern African nature reserves, researchers associated with the University of Cape Town’s Environmental Policy Research Unit (EPRU) in South Africa spent the month of August poring over results from recent surveys conducted in the respective parks.
They are gearing up to present these early findings at the Environment for Development (EfD) Initiative annual meeting which takes place in Dar es Salaam from 23 to 26 October 2014.
The ERPU’s Prof Edwin Muchapondwa confirmed that research teams had visited the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, Kenya’s Maasai-Mara National Reserve, and the Kruger National Park in South Africa, in order to roll out surveys amongst visitors to the park.
‘Parks need to find alternative ways to fund themselves, as their operational costs go up. Raising park entrance fees is one way of increasing revenue,’ explains Muchapondwa.
‘And yet, park authorities generally don’t have a scientific basis on which to peg their prices.’
The surveys are an attempt to gauge how much tourists value the parks, and then to match gate and related fees accordingly.
‘You don’t want to push up the entrance fees too much, and drive tourists away,’ says Muchapondwa.
Once analysed, the team hopes to develop a formal framework that park agencies can use as they consider restructuring their fees.
by Leonie Joubert