Visitors cancel bookings

2015-04-24 00:00

CAPE TOWN — South African National Parks has condemned the recent spate of xenophobic violence that broke out across the country, saying that they have already had a number of booking cancellations from neighbouring countries.

“A large proportion of guests to our national parks are international visitors and we appear to be sending a message that foreigners are not welcome in our country,” a press statement read.

Apart from booking cancellations, SANParks also noted that the occurrence of xenophobia has the potential to undo years of successful work done in the ­establishment of Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCA), managed as part of cross border relationships in research, tourism, cultural heritage, science and conservation.

According to SANParks Chief ­Executive Officer, Fundisile Mketeni, they bought into the concept of TFCAs, facilitated by the Peace Parks Foundation (PPF), in support of an idea of ­re-connecting with shared cultures which had been divided by centuries of conflict and colonialism.

“We have been working tirelessly to perfect a vision of vast conservation ­areas cutting across national borders, even soliciting the support of our late beloved statesman, Nelson Mandela, as chief patron of the Peace Parks concept.

“The Transfrontier Conservation ­Areas are not just about conservation — they are also about building bridges within southern African society and breaking down the artificial barriers that were created between people by our ­colonial history.

“We fear that the current wave of ­attacks on our fellow Africans will ­undermine the good work that has been done in this regard.”

Mketeni said SANParks enjoys good working relations with countries such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, ­Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania and Kenya among others.

“This assists in our efforts of staying abreast with current trends in ­conservation, tourism and related fields while our colleagues in SANParks also give advice on complex functions in our field of ­interest.”

SANParks currently forms part of a number of TFCAs which includes, Ai Ais Richtersveld bordering Namibia, ­Kgalagadi TFCA with Botswana and Namibia, Maloti Drakensberg TFCA with Lesotho, Great Limpopo TFCA with Mozambique and Zimbabwe as well as Greater Mapungubwe TFCA with Botswana and Zimbabwe.

“It is for this reason that we call on all South African’s to take time to reflect on the negative impact these attacks have on our sense of humanity and our ­standing within the broader international community,” concluded Mketeni.

The effects of xenophobia have been so far-reaching that China, Australia and the UK have urged their citizens to be cautious when heading to South Africa.

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