With the Covid-19 pandemic spinning many sectors of the economy for the second year in a row, local travelers again played a key role last year in keeping Uganda’s tourism sector afloat.
According to data of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), the number of local visitors to the national parks increased significantly in 2020 and 2021 compared to the years before the outbreak of Covid-19.
The Semuliki National Park recorded in the first half of the year 5,137 local visitors in 2021, up from the 4,674 locals who visited the park throughout 2019. A total of 5,739 locals visited the park in 2020. Only 156 international tourists visited Semuliki National Park in 2020, while 193 of them were registered in the first half of 2021.
Kibale National Park, in Chimpanzee life also saw an increase in native visitors in 2021, welcoming 269 locals in the first six months of the year. In comparison, only 211 and 215 locals visited the park throughout 2019 and 2020, respectively.
In 2021, more locals also went for gorilla tracking. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, popular with international tourists, recorded 490 visits from locals in the first half of 2021, compared to 706 in all of 2019.
In 2021, locals also visited mountain gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in larger numbers, with official records showing a total of 797 Ugandans visited the park between January and June, up from 1,164 in 2019.