The South African National Parks (SANParks) said on Tuesday that South Africans could enjoy a free visit for the day to any national park of their choice.
The offer, which is limited, to South Africans is part of the commemoration of the annual SANParks week.
SANParks acting head of communications William Mabasa said the objective was to cultivate 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,” said Mabasa.
Under the established theme “Know Your National Parks”, the week-long campaign runs from Monday, September 12, to Friday, September 16.
To gain free entry to the parks during the SANParks week, visitors will have to produce valid identity documents. Children under the age of 16 years will be allowed free access without proof of identity.
But the one-day free access does not include accommodation or any commercial activities in the park, such as guided safaris in vehicles or guided walks.
First National Bank (FNB) is sponsoring SANParks week.
“Once again, we hope that through allowing free access to our national parks, we will succeed in encouraging all South Africans to visit the beautiful parks our country has to offer,” said Kgosi Ledimo, CEO of FNB Public Sector Banking.
“At FNB we understand that we have a responsibility to conserve and protect the environment and as corporate South Africa we have prioritised the reduction of our carbon footprint through our daily operations.”
The idea of a national parks focus week is a worldwide campaign and was conceived in South Africa in 2006 after realising that a vast majority of South Africans were not accessing the national parks, Mabasa said.
“The week-long campaign will be applicable to all the national parks managed by SANParks, with the exception of Boulders in Table Mountain National Park and Namaqua National Park. Some of the parks will be extending the week to include the weekend,” said Mabasa.
“This year’s SANParks Week will include exhibitions around the country at various key national parks, which will represent the different geographical regions of SANParks,” Mabasa said.
“The expo will include cultural, conservation, nursery and tourism aspects from the community, rangers and various conservation entities in order to highlight the broader South African biodiversity landscape.”
SANParks encourages South Africans, especially educators and school groups, to visit a national park of their choice and enjoy the free one-day access.
“The survival of the South African national parks system and our natural and cultural heritage lies in the people of South Africa,” said Mabasa.
– African News Agency (ANA)