Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Kidepo valley National Park in Karamoja region has registered an increase in the number of tourist visits.
Bradford Ochieng, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer Uganda Tourism Board [UTB], says a total of 13,000 tourists visited the wildlife protected area in the last financial year.
According to Ochieng, the numbers have grown tremendously in the last three years adding that in the previous year  only 10,000 tourists visited the National Park.
The increase is considered the highest since the region attained relative peace more than a decade ago following the Lord’s Resistance Army Rebel insurgencies that made the Park inaccessible to tourists.
Ochieng says the growth in the numbers of tourists visiting Kidepo National Park should be an eye opener for the available opportunities to residents and service providers in the districts neighboring the Park.
For instance, Ochieng says currently 70 percent of the tourists traveling to Kidepo National Park pass via Kitgum District, adding that residents should seize the advantage to start selling their local products to the visitors.
He called on Kitgum district leadership to work closely with UTB to ensure that the dream of selling locally produced products to foreigners is made achievable.
According to Ochieng, the numbers of tourists visiting the Uganda’s National Parks is on the rise.
He discloses that last year alone, a total of 330,000 tourists visited major National Parks giving a growth rate of about nine percent.
The increased numbers of tourists at the park saw revenue collection shooting up to Shillings 1.6 Billion in the financial year 2018/19 up from Shillings 1.2 billion in 2017/18 this financial year.
Kidepo Valley National Park was gazetted a national park in 1962 and currently hosts over 75 species of mammals and 470 species of birds.
Given the growth of the country’s tourism sector, government early this year announced that it is going to focus on attracting at least one million tourists both locally and internationally.
According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, Uganda received 1.8 million tourists in 2018, up from 1.4 million in 2017.