Following the March 1 landslides that ravaged Bududa, the park statistics for March have indicated that Tourists shunned Mt. Elgon National Park. The Mt Elgon visitor survey figures indicated in a report that out of 644 foreign tourists who visited Mt. Elgon national park from March to August, only 24 were registered in March.
According to Mt Elgon Conservation area manager, Mr Adonia Bintorwa, this dashed any hopes that the tourism industry at Mt Elgon National Park would make up for the sharp fall in the number of overseas visitors to the park within a month or two.
Mr Bintorwa said, “We even got calls from international tourists canceling their trips because they saw Nametsi, the scene of the landslide on the maps. We failed and only 24 foreign visitors came to the park, any hopes that the tourism industry would grow due to domestic visitation was also dashed by the same landslide.”
He added figure dipped even further to only 13 tourists in April although it rose to 37 in May. But this was still lower than the 120 to 190 tourists who visited the park during the same period last year. The report noted that most of the foreign tourists who comprise nearly 90 per cent of the park’s visitors, kept away. Regular foreign tourists at the park include Americans, the British, Germans, Dutch and Canadians.
March and April registered only 27 foreign tourists. However, the figure slightly rose to 37 in May. Save for the 13 German tourists, one Dutch and an American who visited the park in March, the Israelites, British, and Canadian visitors kept away during the tragic month.
According to Ms Gertrude Namakula, the warden in charge of tourism, most of the cancelled bookings were rescheduled for June to September when the park experiences peak periods and December to March.
Ms Namakula revealed that between June and August, the park registered 367 foreign visitors far higher than between March and May. She said other prominent visitors to the park comprise foreign students on holiday from Europe and North America, local student scouts and local residents.
Ms Namakula said there has been a decline in tourism at the national park given the fact that 2,903 tourists visited the park in 2009, down from 3,844 the previous year.
The main tourist attractions include hot springs, caves, waterfalls, wildlife and the Wagagai peak that stands at 4,321 metres above sea level.
Tourism, agriculture and forestry are top on the list of the national primary growth areas of the newly-released National Development Plan. In 2008, tourism contributed 9.2 percent or $1.2 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP), while in Kenya, it brought in $3.5 billion or 10.8 per cent to GDP according to the World Tourism and Travel Council.