The South African National Parks (SANParks), in partnership with First National Bank (FNB) and Total South Africa has recently announced that the 15th annual South African National Parks Week will be kicking off in a week’s time, which means free access to all for a week, running from the 16th to the 20th of November 2020.
SANParks Chief Executive Officer, Fundisile Mketeni said that SANParks had to postpone the week, which is normally takes place in September, to November due to the Covid-19 lockdown period. Mketeni said that because the country is still on Level 1 of the lockdown, they would like to remind the public that a gate quota system will apply in all their national parks throughout the focus week.
According to Mketeni, the week is meant to cultivate a sense of pride in South Africa’s natural, cultural and historical heritage, which are protected by the national parks system. He said it is important for South Africans to visit and to know the importance of national parks.
He also added that SANParks will open the week in West Coast National Park and that the feature element of the campaign is the free access granted to all South African day visitors carrying their official Identity Documents. Mketeni also announced that those under the age of 16 will be allowed free access without proof of identity and that this free access to the parks will not include accommodation and any commercial activities in the park such as guided safaris in vehicles, guided walks, etc.
“Every year SANParks, aims to increase the number of citizens that are granted free access to national parks during this time. Since we started the programme in 2006, about 551 393 South Africans have been afforded the opportunity to enter national parks, and we want to see these numbers grow.” Said Mketeni.
Total South Africa, Corporate Affairs Manager, Nne-Mpho Siaga said that as a sponsor of SANParks for more than 60 years, Total South Africa remains committed to the conservation of wildlife and the environment. She said that it is one of the pillars of Total South Africa’s Corporate Social Investment and a responsibility that they take very seriously.
“The annual SANParks Week is such a great initiative as it allows free entry to SA citizens and gives everyone the opportunity to experience the parks first-hand. Total South Africa is honoured to be in a position to make this possible.” Said Siaga.
Sipho Silinda, CEO, FNB Public Sector Banking said that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the tourism industry, and therefore it is important for individuals and communities to play a role in supporting the survival of the South African National Parks system, the country’s national and culture heritage.
“FNB believes in responsible actions by individuals and communities at large, as they are an imperative factor in protecting and managing the environment. The 15th annual SANParks week is a noteworthy milestone in our commitment to continue to enable South African citizens to explore our country’s natural heritage.” She added.
Mketeni concluded by saying that SANParks encourages all South Africans, especially the youth, to diarise these dates and plan a visit to a national park nearby. He added that the survival of the South African national parks system and the natural and cultural heritage lies in the people of South African.