23 February 2015
The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town attracted more than one million visitors in 2014.
“The milestone achieved by Kirstenbosch is a tribute to the hard work and vision of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI),” Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said 19 February, in announcing the visitor numbers.
Attaining this historic milestone had secured Kirstenbosch’s status as one of the most important tourist attractions in South Africa. Hanekom said South Africa’s conservation and biodiversity assets depended on tourism for its survival.
“The tourism footprint in conservation areas and botanical gardens generates the income to support the sustainability of these assets.”
SANParks – South African National Parks – generated 85% of its operational costs through tourism revenue, while less than 1% of the Kruger National Park’s two million hectares was dedicated to tourism infrastructure.
The income generated from tourism enabled SANParks, which manages the country’s wildlife reserves, to maintain its reputation as a world leader in the management of protected areas. “The success of tourism underpins the sustainability of our conservation efforts,” Hanekom said.
Taleb Rifai, the secretary-general of the World Tourism Organization, a unit of the United Nations (UNWTO), said tourism could be one of the effective tools used for conservation by providing resources for environmental preservation and by raising awareness among millions of people every year of the immense value of the country’s natural heritage and the responsibility to protect it.
SANBI chief executive Dr Tanya Abrahamse said Kirstenbosch was an example how tourism and biodiversity could build a beneficial partnership and contribute to a more sustainable economic model.
“Kirstenbosch is well-known as a ‘must see’ destination when planning a trip to South Africa, so when international tourism experts visit the country it’s no surprise that they would like to visit this iconic spot.”