Despite the announcement in June of this year by Marthinus van Schalkwyk, environmental affairs and tourism minister, that the Blyde Canyon National Park would be declared on Heritage Day September 24, 2006, nothing has happened.
“The declaration of the national park has been put on hold because of the land claim which the department of land affairs and environmental affairs and tourism are currently addressing,” said Blessing Manale, acting chief director of communication.
The park would have been the first national park to be run by a provincial conservation authority (the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency) as opposed to being run by Sanparks. The local communities who have land claims in the area have been extensively consulted in the leadup to the declaration of the park, and community members will have the right to provide input into the management of the park.
In the speech announcing that the park would be declared in September, van Schalkwyk also announced that the department had allocated R18 million infrastructure budget for the park for the next three years, and that the park “has the potential to become one of the fastest growing malaria-free tourism destinations in Africa.”