Information coming out of Juba suggests that the newly-formed South Sudan unity government will now turn its attention to reviving the national economy, all but destroyed in over two years of a senseless civil when ethnic cleansing by the regime was triggered off a sharp defensive counter reaction in December 2013.
This, hopefully, now in the past, in particular wildlife and nature-based tourism will need boosting but sources in Juba have suggested that only licensed operators in South Sudan will be able to take clients on expeditions and safaris.
Presently only one safari tour operator is licensed to carry out tours and operators from abroad, be it the region or overseas, and it must either register in Juba and complete the licensing process BEFORE bringing in clients or else risk fines and even arrests with potentially severe consequences for clients who in good faith paid thousands of dollars for their tour.
It has, therefore, been suggested by a source close to the tourism ministry that visitors booked on safari tours insist they are shown a valid operating permit before parting with money.
Once coming back online, tourism has the potential to kickstart South Sudan’s economy in a sector independent from oil, a key advantage given the heavy reliance on crude exports as is the case right now.
Several national parks – game counts will be undertaken in due course assisted by the Wildlife Conservation Society and other NGOs to establish game distribution and numbers – are available for visits, and the big migration of up to 2 million white-eared kobs and other antelopes and gazelles from the Boma National Park and the Sudd to the Bandigalo National Park along the Nile are said to be so spectacular that a stream of tour groups can be expected to come to South Sudan and see the spectacle, when visa issues, photo license issues, and infrastructure challenges have been resolved.