R500m boost for SA parks

8 June 2007

South African National Parks (SANParks) has been allocated R574.9-million to develop infrastructure and improve facilities in the country’s nature reserves for the 2010 Fifa World Cup and beyond.

“Coupled with the R600-million that is being spent on the infrastructure component of the Expanded Public Works Programme, total expenditure on upgrading, as well as new rest camps, tourism roads, fences and other infrastructure, will have exceeded R1-billion by 2010,” Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk told Parliament this week. , during the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism’s (Deat) budget vote this week.

Delivering his department’s budget vote in Cape Town, Van Schalkwyk said SANParks had signed an agreement with Fifa accommodation and ticketing company Match to offer football fans a truly unique experience during the World Cup.

“In the event that SANParks is called on to provide more accommodation units than are currently available in its inventory, the organisation has made provisions to erect, at short notice, tented accommodation to meet any demands that may be placed on the facilities,” the minister said.

“Provision of services in national parks throughout the 2010 World Cup tournament will occur with very minimal disruption to domestic visitors, who remain the organisation’s backbone.”

Trans-frontier tourism
Van Schalkwyk said that in June 2005, eight Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states had adopted a strategy to promote trans-frontier conservation areas (TFCAs) and trans-frontier parks (TFPs) as premier international tourism attractions for 2010 and beyond.

“We therefore plan, before the end of the year, to hold at least two investor conferences, one in South Africa and one in Europe, to attract investment into major tourist facilities within the TFCAs,” he said.

South Africa’s tourism industry has continued to improve, with almost 8.4-million international arrivals in 2006 – an increase of more than one million visitors compared to the previous year.

Open Africa Route
Van Schalkwyk said his department was currently funding the Open Africa Route initiative, in order to achieve the revenue, seasonality, distribution, length of stay and transformation requirements of the South African tourism industry.

He said the development of these routes would focus on the packaging of “second economy” products into tourism experiences. Twenty-three existing routes are being revised to include second economy operators, and three new routes are being developed.

“We are providing a comprehensive range of support measures to ensure that the second-economy operators are well equipped to meet the high expectations of both local and international travellers,” he said.

In addition, just over 2 000 small operators will be trained on tourism awareness, while over 800 will be trained in business management, human resource management, financial management and marketing.

Van Schalkwyk added that the department would launch a tourism safety and awareness strategy, involving “pro-active measures as well as support measures where incidents have occurred”, in September.

Source: BuaNews