The South African National Parks (SANParks) saw 113,032 visitors to the respective parks during the South African National Parks Week from September 8 to 15.
This was a 52.6% increase from last year’s 74,086, reports Letaba Herald.
This campaign under the established 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 SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni, the objective of the week was to give all South Africans an opportunity to enjoy and experience the beauty and majesty of the breath-taking national parks.
“We had an increase of just over 52% this year from last year’s 74,086 visitors. It was good to see smaller parks such as West Coast and Bontebok National Park also having an increase in their numbers compared to previous years.
“South African National Parks Week aims 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,” said Mketeni.
The iconic Kruger National Park had 45,541 day visitors this year, with a total of 237,287 since the inception of SA National Parks Week. The feature element of this campaign is the free access granted to all South African day visitors carrying their official identity documents.
Since its inception in 2006, National Parks Week has seen an influx of 551,393 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,” said Mketeni.
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 SA 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 have been able to visit our parks free of charge,” said Mketeni. 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 in the people of South Africa,” concluded Mketeni.