SANParks in financial trouble

2013-03-26 22:24
(Picture: Supplied)

(Picture: Supplied)

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Johannesburg - SA National Parks (SANParks) is facing a major funding problem, managing executive Glenn Phillips said on Tuesday.

Conservation was an expensive business and the park had grown by 558 000ha since the year 2000, he said in a statement.

"The scope of SANParks' responsibilities is staggering. Apart from the conservation aspect and ongoing research, there are, for instance, 4 223km of tourist roads that have to be maintained," Phillips explained.

"If we were to extrapolate the last five years' revenue and operational cost trends over the coming 10 years, a scary picture emerges."

It was estimated that profit from tourism operations would be in the region of R800m, while operational costs were expected to reach around R1.4bn.

"That is a massive shortfall."

He said the fight against rhino poaching resulted in significant financial resources being absorbed, resources that SANParks did not have.

The opportunity for SANParks to grow was "simply not sustainable".

"Our only option is to develop additional products and services that lend themselves to the natural attributes in each specific park," he said.

But this would be done in a responsible and sustainable manner, to deliver on its core mandate of biodiversity conservation.

He said the strategy tried to develop better ways in which communities living close to the parks were able to benefit from protecting the parks.

"We are confident that with the co-operation of communities surrounding our parks, commitment from our staff and robust sales and marketing, we will be able to overcome whatever challenges that might arise."

Phillips said the "responsible tourism strategy" was an adaptive one that would see SANParks doing things differently in the next 10 years.

"We are not only seeing visitors' needs and expectation changing but government funding for the national parks is also changing.

"It is this new wave of change that necessitated a new thinking on how tourism in national parks will be run, measured and developed in the next 10 years."

Phillips said the new crop of visitors would still be lured to the wilderness, but would also want to do more than drive around in their car.

"They [would] want to be out in the veld, hiking, biking, swimming, canoeing, beach-combing, mountaineering, [and] dining under the stars."

Read more on:    sanparks  |  johannesburg  |  conservation

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