According to a report released by South African National Parks (SANParks) traditional barriers that kept previously disadvantaged South Africans away from experiencing South Africa's natural heritage are falling by the wayside. Latest tourism figures have shown that the number of black South Africans visiting national parks operated by SANParks has increased across the board to 19,7 percent from an estimated four percent in 2003.
"As this falls comfortably with our organisational vision and goals, we are happy with the results but encourage all South Africans to consider our Parks as possible holiday destinations," said SANParks Chief Executive Dr David Mabunda. Of the fourteen major national parks featured in the report, which excludes Table Mountain National Park, Mapungubwe National Park leads the pack with an impressive 62,2 percent of its guest profile made up of black people. Golden Gate National Park (22,8 percent) and the Kruger National Park (21,4 percent) follow in second and third positions respectively.
Other parks including Addo Elephant National Park and Augrabies Falls National Park have also significantly improved their statistics. "There are two factors that might have influenced this phenomenal growth," commented Dr Mabunda, "firstly, the efforts of our outreach programmes run by our People and Conservation Department and secondly the fact that this market segment is being targeted by intensive marketing and public relations campaigns." The statistics also confirm that the majority of guests visiting South Africa's national parks are predominantly South Africans.
Latest figures show that 74,6 percent of visitors are South African with the rest being either SADC (0.6 perecnt) or international (24,8 percent). Tsitsikamma National Park receives the highest percentage of foreign guests (55,7 percent) followed by Addo Elephant National Park (48,2 percent) and Bontebok National Park (44,5 percent) second and third respectively.
The nine month report, ending 31 December 2005, shows that the Kruger National Park received most guests at 1 005 012 followed closely by Table Mountain National Park with 1 001 123 guests and Tsitsikamma National Park in third place with 113 368 guests.