Public invited to make use of free access during SA National Parks Week
South Africans are invited to take advantage of the free access granted to the country’s national parks during SA National Parks Week from 16 to 24 September.
“National Parks Week is an ideal opportunity for us to introduce the majesty and beauty of the country’s national parks to the people, especially to communities who seldom get to experience and enjoy these areas of conservation, cultural heritage and biological diversity right on their doorstep,” said Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy.
“Since the inception of the South African National Parks Week in 2006, around 619 300 South Africans have participated,” said Creecy.
Since the inception of the South African National Parks Week in 2006, around 619 300 South Africans have participated.Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy.
“Tourism is an important part of our country’s economy and contributes significantly to our gross domestic product and job creation. As a preferred tourist destination, we should not lose sight of the importance of continuing to find innovative ways to continue to grow this sector. Key to this remains the partnerships between government, communities and the private sector. It is thus important to acknowledge the much-needed assistance from the national Department of Tourism, which has supported several infrastructure projects in our national parks,” Creecy says.
This includes the installation of a solar PV array with 2 640 PV modules and 33 inverters that connects directly into the Kruger National Park’s electricity grid at a nearby Eskom substation in the Skukuza main camp. Since the commissioning of the system in May 2018, Skukuza has reduced its electricity bill with an average of R136 000 per month, which translates to a saving of more than R8 million over the past five years.
Because the majority of our national parks are situated in rural areas, the parks can make use of goods and services offered by adjacent and nearby communities. It is because of this that SANParks spent more than R550 million procuring services from SMMEs in the past year. A total of R273 million has been spent on 863 SMMEs through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), creating around 5 370 full-time-equivalent work opportunities in communities where there is little other formal employment. Every day, an average of 7 500 individuals employed by the EPWP enter our national parks and do crucial work such as land rehabilitation, cleaning of beaches, support of rangers, and infrastructure maintenance.
A South African identity document will be needed for access. Children below the age of 16 will not be required to provide identification.
The free access to the parks does not include accommodation and commercial activities in the park such as guided safaris in vehicles or guided walks.