SANParks boosts visitor numbers

2016-10-05 06:00

SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL PARKS (SANParks) saw 62 312 visitors flock to its parks during South African National Parks Week from 12 to 18 September.

This campaign, under the theme Know Your National Parks, allowed locals with valid identity documents an opportunity to spend a day at a national park of their choice free of charge.

According to the SANParks Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Fundisile Mketeni, the objective of the week was to give all South Africans a chance to enjoy and experience the beauty and majesty of our breathtaking national parks.

“We wanted to create a culture of pride in all South Africans in their relationship with the country’s natural, cultural and historical heritage.

“When people start to take pride in the national parks, then we believe that they will start to understand the importance of conservation,” Mketeni said.

Mketeni said the featured element of this campaign is the free access granted to all South African day visitors carrying their official identity documents.

“Young persons under the age of 16 years old were allowed free access without proof of identity.

“Since its inception in 2006, National Parks Week has seen an influx of 286 935 day visitors in all participating parks.

“These numbers are encouraging and tell us that more people are taking advantage of this free week at our national parks.”

Since 2006, each of the regions has seen an influx of day visitors during South African National Parks Week. The Cape region (Agulhas, Bontebok, Table Mountain, Tankwa and West Coast National Parks) has had 70 848 day visitors, with 14 010 visiting this year.

The Frontier Region (Addo, Camdeboo, Garden Route, Karoo and Mountain Zebra National Parks) has had 54 867 day visitors since 2006, with 14 061 visiting this year.

The Arid Region (Augrabies, Kgalagadi, Mokala and Richtersveld National Parks) has had 11 480 day visitors and 2 830 in 2016. The Northern Region (Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site, Marakele and Golden Gate Highlands National Parks) has welcomed 19 237 day visitors in total, with 6 562 this year.

The iconic Kruger National Park has had 24 849 day visitors this year, with a total of 130 503 since the inception of South African National Parks Week.

All of the parks managed by SANParks, excluding Namaqua and Boulders at Table Mountain National Park, participated in the initiative to give the public an understanding of the role that SANParks plays as custodian of the country’s natural heritage.

Each park hosted activities during the week which were aimed at education.

“We are focused on involving young people and communities, to cultivate knowledge of the importance of conservation and an appreciation for the country’s natural heritage,” said Mketeni.

The annual South African National Parks Week was made possible with support from First National Bank (FNB) and Total South Africa.

“Without our sponsors this week would not have materialised and South Africans would not be able to visit our parks free of charge.”

SANParks thanks all South Africans who took part in this week, especially educators and school groups.

“The survival of the South African national parks system and our natural and cultural heritage lies with the people of South Africa,” concludes Mketeni.

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