Johannesburg - The annual South African National Park Week hosted by South African National Parks was a roaring success.This year's event launched at Mokala National Park outside Kimberley on 9 September 2013 saw an increase of 28.8% resulting in a total number of 39 026 day visitors to various national parks.This according to SANParks Acting Head of Communications, Reynold Thakhuli who said the national parks attracted 30 309 visitors in 2012. "The increase seen this year can be attributed to SANParks programmes designed to connect with the broader South African society and living its vision of connecting to society."He said since its inception in 2006, SANParks Week has seen an influx of over 133 000 day visitors in all participating parks. The concept of National Parks Week, which grants free access to national parks, was established in a bid to cultivate a sense of pride in South Africa's natural, cultural and historical heritage, protected by the national parks system."These numbers are encouraging and tell us that more people are taking advantage of this free week at our national Parks. We want to encourage the local communities to make use of this week and experience the natural, cultural and historical heritage which belongs to them," said Thakhuli.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.Since 2006 each of the regions has seen an influx of day visitors. The Cape region (Agulhas, Bontebok, Table Mountain, Tankwa and West Coast National Parks) has had 39 421 day visitors with 21 137 visiting this year. The Frontier Region (Addo Elephant, Camdeboo, Karoo, and Mountain Zebra National Park) has had 12 620 day visitors with 2 216 visiting this year.The Arid Region (Augrabies, Kgalagadi, Mokala and Richtersveld National Parks) has had 4 767 day visitors and 687 in 2013. The Northern Region (Mapungubwe National Park & World Heritage Site, Marakele and Golden Gate Highlands National Parks) has welcomed 6 772 day visitors with 661 this year.The Garden Route (Knysna, Tsitsikamma and Wilderness) has had a total of 5 796 day visitors with 1 135 this year. The iconic Kruger National Park had 13 327 day visitors this year with a total of 64 296 since inception."The survival of the South African national parks system and our natural and cultural heritage lies in the people of South Africa. If we do not give South Africans an opportunity to experience the beauty of their country we are doomed to fail," concluded Thakhuli. Check out our SANParks Week gallery.