SANParks expects to reach pre-COVID visitor numbers by next year

Reading Time: 2 minutes

South African National Parks (SANParks) says it is making a steady recovery in its visitor numbers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It says it hopes that they can reach pre-COVID levels in the next financial year.

Senior members and scientists of SANParks took part in the first-ever interaction with tourism players at the Africa Travel Indaba in Durban.

SANParks says however that load shedding is negatively impacting their business because the diesel that runs generators at visitor camps inside parks, has not been budgeted for.

SANParks General Manager of Scientific Services Dr Danny Govender says they are now switching to renewable energy where possible.

“We’ve got a green energy strategy for SANParks and it’s got various tiers. So the first tier is how do you reduce your footprint, you know, bulb changes and geyser settings and all of that. But eventually, you get to level 3, which is renewable. So we’re starting with the small camps that we can fund from our fiscus. But the difficulty now comes in terms of funding the big camps. So if you look at Kruger versus parks, about 66% of the electricity consumption within SANParks comes from Kruger.”

SANParks Board Chairperson Pam Yako says the idea of starting a conversation between their scientists and the tourism industry, was partially sparked by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She says such conversations are aimed at fostering better mutual understanding.

Yako says, “So we as SANParks are the custodians of biodiversity and we are the third mega bio-diverse country in the world. So what we are trying to do here is to say that as much as it is important for people to buy and come into South Africa, they also need to understand what is behind it. What is the science that informs some of the decisions that we make and the relevance of science in what we do and all the decisions that we make as an organisation.”