As at the end of October 2006, all guests leaving the Kruger National Park (KNP) must be in possession of a valid exit permit. According to the Sanparks website "These exit permits will be issued on check in at your last stayover camp and it is your responsibility to ensure that the information displayed on the permit is correct. Exit permits for day visitors will be issued at the entrance gate. Failure to produce a valid exit permit on departure will result in a delayed exit process."
Guests are requested to take note of the exit date, vehicle registration numbers, and correct number of passengers travelling in the vehicles, are recorded on the permits. "Should you decide to leave on a date other than what is displayed on your exit permit, or the number of passengers in your vehicle changes, remember to request a new permit at reception and ensure that the correct information is displayed on the permit before attempting to exit the park. You will be required to hand in your original permit at reception when requesting a new permit."
In the space of one week, two different Kruger National Park (KNP) entrance gates were targeted by criminals. While little was taken at the Numbi Gate, the Orpen Gate did not fare so well and KNP management has promised to take steps to protect the park's entrances.
On September 29, 2006 a number of unarmed men broke into the Numbi Entrance Gate, and attempted to force open the safe. Fortunately, they failed to access it, and left the scene with several icecreams and souvenir DVDs. Four days later, on October 3, 2006, eight armed men overcame the armed guards at Orpen Gate, and forced a camp official to access the safe.
A bundle of cash was stolen. Nobody was injured, and the South African Police Service, in cooperation with Sanparks Corporate Investigative Service (CIS), are currently investigating. The case has been handed over to the lowveld serious and violent crimes unit. According to the unit's commander Capt Ockie Brits, "We are working on leads and hope to make a breakthrough soon."
Based on his past experience, he believes that the Orpen gate robbery is a case of copy cat crime, coming in the wake of the attack on Crocodile Bridge. In July a gang of five men with heavy weapons invaded the rest camp. The gang held up the duty manager, forcing him to open the money and firearms safes. All the cash, as well as several firearms and ammunition, were stolen.
Their vehicle was found abandoned on the road to Swaziland, but investigations subsequently led to the arrest of four men, who are still in custody. Capt Britz said that they narrowly missed picking up the fifth identified suspect on Friday October 6, 2006. Dr Bandile Mkhize, executive director of Kruger, said that the robberies seemed "well-planned" but added that the KNP is "working with the (SAPS) to try and stop these incidents before they happen". He also reassured visitors and staff that security at the "more vulnerable
World Tourism Day was celebrated on 27 September 2006. In figures taken from January to April, and compared to the same period last year, the number of foreign visitors to South Africa has increased by 377 000 (16 percent). For the first time ever, there have been more than 2.7 million tourists to South Africa in the first four months of the year. Observers have put this sudden increase down to international awareness of the 2010 Football World Cup.
As evidence of this, the number of Brazilian tourists has increased by 32 percent. On World Tourism Day, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, announced that a number of workshops and conferences will be held to ensure that the World Cup will be a success and that South Africans will be able to take advantage of the massive overseas market at the time. The Minister concluded his speech by stating that 'with our initial figures as they are, South Africa looks set to eclipse last year's record tourism figure of 7.3 million.'
CFA Air Charters announced on October 2, 2006 that they will be opening a branch at Eastgate Airport in Hoedspruit, to offer, for the first time, a link between the Eastgate and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airports for passengers to be able to link between the Nationwide and Airlink flights to the lodges in the Hoedspruit area as well as connections between local surrounding lodges and the Eastgate Airport. The branch will be opened with effect from 9 October 2006 at the Eastgate Airport.
"We are very excited about this move and the opportunities that this brings to CFA, to provide our customers with more options and accessibility to destinations thereby making their travel experiences more memorable," said Cindy Erasmus, marketing director of CFA Air Charters. The new available flight routes offered will enable passengers to connect with the Cape Town and Johannesburg flights to lodges in the Hoedspruit area.
"We are also very pleased to announce that we will have various aircraft based at the Eastgate Airport to transfer guests between the airports and lodges making planned trips more hassle free," commented Erasmus. CFA have opened this link to lodges in the Hoedspruit area to offer the opportunity to increase occupancy in the lodges now being able to have the best of both airports.