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Visitor Numbers Remain Low At UWEC

David Musingo, UWEC's Manager of Education and Information Department, says the visitor numbers are still low, compared to the daily average of 500 visitors on weekdays and 2,000 on weekends before the outbreak of covid-19.
A delegate carries a baby snake at the Entebbe Zoo.

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The Uganda Wildlife Education and Conservation Centre – UWEC is struggling with the low numbers of visitors.

UWEC reopened in August after spending five months under lock and key following the outbreak of the Coronavirus disease-COVID-19 in the country.  The centre, which has over 600 animal and bird species, was closed on March 27th. 

According to records, UWEC has been receiving less than 100 visitors during weekdays and about 1,000 visitors on weekends in the past seven months.

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, the zoo would attract close to 400,000 visitors a year. It would receive an average of 1,000 visitors daily. Most of these visitors were school children and foreign tourists.

David Musingo, UWEC's Manager of Education and Information Department, says the visitor numbers are still low, compared to the daily average of 500 visitors on weekdays and 2,000 on weekends before the outbreak of covid-19.

He explains that from August 2020, the centre was expected to receive 300 to 2,000 visitors a day. But it has received 50 to 80 visitors on a weekday and 1,000 to 1,500 visitors during the weekends.  

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According to Musingo, currently, there are mainly local tourists and families that are visiting the zoo because of the staggered reporting of learners and the decline in the number of international passengers via Entebbe International Airport.

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Musingo says that the low numbers of visitors have affected the revenue. He explains that the centre collects an average of 100 million shillings a month from gate collections compared to the monthly average of 500 million Shillings before covid-19.

James Musinguzi, the Executive Director of UWEC noted last year that the centre made a loss of about 2 Billion Shillings during the five months it was closed. UWEC’s annual budget is 5 Billion Shillings and it covers salaries, maintenance of facilities and feeding of the wildlife. 

Musinguzi says that the centre has so far received over 2 Billion from the government during the pandemic.

UWEC is open to the public from 8:30 am to 5 pm every day. However, impromptu visitors were banned from accessing the centre to avoid congestion. The centre limits the number of visitors to ensure social distancing and regular disinfection of public spaces.

It only admits 300 visitors a day. However, only 100 people access the centre at a given time.  Only visitors aged 7 years and above are allowed because they must wear face masks. Visitors will also not be allowed to interact with wildlife, especially animals and will only be allowed on the condition that they make cashless payments.