SanParks doors open free next week
It’s Tourism Month and the objective is to cultivate a culture of pride with SA’s natural, cultural and historical heritage
TOURISM Month is in full swing, with South African National Parks (SANParks) once again offering free entry to its parks next week.
SANParks manages at leas 19 national parks in seven provinces with a total area of more than 4 million hectares.
Parks are primarily self-funding, generating 80% of operating budgets from ecotourism.
SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni says tourism revenue grew by 14.5% this year.
SANParks, through its Expanded Public Works Programme, created more than 6 000 permanent jobs during the past year through a range of projects such as the environmental monitor programme.
Employees were recruited from 360 communities adjacent to national parks.
TOURISM Month is in full swing, with South African National Parks (SANParks) once again opening its doors for free next week from Monday to Friday.
The objective of the week is to cultivate a culture of pride in all South Africans in their relationship with the country’s natural, cultural and historical heritage.
SANParks manages a system of 19 functional national parks in seven of the nine provinces of South Africa with a total area of just over 4 million hectares, comprising 67% of the protected areas under state management.
In the last two decades, seven new national parks have been established, totalling over 700 000ha, with much of it being conserved biomes such as the succulent Karoo and the fynbos areas.
Parks are primarily self-funding, generating 80% of operating budgets from eco tourism.
SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni said they witnessed a corresponding increase in the tourism revenue, which grew by 14.5% from the previous year.
“Overall, SANParks’ performance in the 2016/17 financial year has been impressive and total revenue in the last financial year was about R2bn, or R221m more than expected,” Mketeni said.
Conservation fee income grew by 28%, accommodation income increased by 8% and income from concessionaire fees by 6%.
Key to the sustainability of the ecotourism business is a marketing strategy that attracts growth markets, a product development strategy congruent with needs and preferences of all markets and public private partnerships that leverage private capital and expertise in diversifying facilities.
The year 201617 for SANParks brought a record breaking 14.1% growth in tourist numbers.
“We had about 6.7 million guests visiting SANParks destinations, with an increase in tourism revenues by 15%,” the SANParks CEO said.
In the 201617 financial year, about 68% of visitors were locals.
Visitor numbers have been increasing steadily, with SANParks recording growth in this key indicator of 5%, 5.9%, 6.6%, 6.1% and 14.1% growth in the years 201213, 201314, 201415, 201516 and 201617 respectively, averaging 7.54% growth in the five years.
National parks are strategically located and can thus play a critical role as catalysts and drivers of local economic development, particularly in the rural areas.
“SANParks is perfectly positioned to address the pressing economic and social issues facing our society – particularly through the provision of jobs for rural communities living near these conservation areas and the provision of support for small, medium and micro enterprises,” Dr Edna Molewa, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs said.
SANParks, through its Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), created 6 013 full time equivalent jobs during the past year through a diverse range of projects such as the environmental monitor programme and the eco-furniture programme.
Employees were recruited from 360 communities adjacent to national parks, creating temporary employment opportunities for 11 879 people, while youth made up 70%, women 55% and people with disabilities 2% of all jobs created.
In addition, over the past year, 856 SMMEs were supported by the programme and R193m was paid to these small contractors.
BACK TO NATURE: Visitors can view quiver trees in the kokerboom forest of Namaqualand among other attractions free of charge next week during the SANParks Tourism Month promotion.