Kruger Park 2005 to 2006 in Review

A total number of 1 243 4657 tourists visited the Kruger National Park during the 2005/6 financial year. According to the Sanparks 2005/6 annual report, this number represents a 16,2% increase in the number of black visitors.

The Marula (southern) region showed a 1,2 percent increase in bed occupancy sold, while the Nkayene (central) region had the same bed occupancy as last year (60,7 percent) and the Nxanatseni (northern) region showed 0,2 percent decline in bed occupancy compared to last year.

Lower Sabie had the highest bed occupancy (80,2 percent), followed by Skukuza (66,0 percent) and then Satara (64,1 percent). Tourism income for the entire Sanparks grew from the previous year's result of R248 million to end on a result of R307 million, which, according to tourism director Glen Phillips, represents a growth of 19,22 percent.

"We continue to grow the national parks estate through new acquisitions of land and in the period under review the organisation managed to acquire a total of 27,320 ha for R48,3 million of the budgeted R58 million. The balance of the R9,7 million will be carried into the new financial year.

Of the R48,3 million used, R41,3 million was accounted for through the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) Land Grant annual allocation and the balance from Sanparks allocation or other donor contributions," says Dr David Mabunda, chief executive of Sanparks in his report.

According to the conservation services department, there has been considerable progress to include neighbouring areas into the Greater Kruger National Park. "Some reserves which are part of the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR) group have applied to become contractual parks." These applications are under review in line with the appropriate legislation.

The removal of 30km of fence on the eastern border with the Limpopo National Park facilitates the on-going implementation of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park. During the year under review, the scientific services department facilitated 160 active research projects in Kruger. Of these, 70 percent were conducted by South African scientists.

A total of 20 local and 30 international research and academic institutions were active in the Park and their activities saw 26 scientific publications and six internal reports being published. The people and conservation department, in partnership with the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) and the Hlanganani Forum, facilitated the construction of the community arts outlet at the Punda Maria entrance gate.

In partnership with the Smart Foundation, 800 boxes of books, were distributed to 150 schools within the seven local community forums on the western boundary of Kruger. The third group pf trainee contractors in the Contractor Development Programme completed their NQF level two labour intensive training modules and completed the first two practical training projects that were funded by the DBSA. A total of 58km of tar road was resurfaced.

The Commercialisations Strategy And The Concessions

"In September 1998, DEAT articulated the need for Sanpark to prepare for a lesser dependance on state funding, which would increasingly be aimed at funding the essential conservation requiremenst. This formed the basis of the Commercialisation strategy as adopted by Sanparks in 2000.

Sanparks is developing a strategic plan to commercialisation for the period 2006 to 2011 in line with National Treasury requirements. The focus will be on a more responsible approach to tourism and commercialisation where the strategy will be used to enhance rather than replace state funding for conservation," says Dr David Mabunda.

According the Annual Report, of the twelve concession sites in Sanparks, 10 are fully operational whilst the two concessions in the Table Mountain National Park are busy with their environmental impact analysis. "The monthly average concession occupancies have improved from 33 percent in April 2004 to well over 52 percent in March 2006.

Annual average occupancies have increased by 10 percent over this period. Notable increases are from Jock Safari Lodge and Singita Lebombo where occupancies rose from 44,50 percent and 34,71 percent for the financial year ending 2005 to 60,37 percent and 47,75 percent respectively for the 2006 financial year."

Sanparks established a business unit, the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to assist 'troubled employees' and their families with personal and work related problems like HIV/Aids, disablity, stress, trauma and addiction. On World Aids Day, December 1, 2005, the Sanparks management team became the first group in the organisation to undergo the voluntary counselling and testing programme.

All information taken from the 2005/6 Sanparks Annual Report

The total revenue from tourism, retail, concessioning and other in Sanparks increased from R441,18 million in 2005 to R486,05 million in 2006. According to the Sanparks Accounting Authority in its 2005/6 annual report this represents an increase of 10,2 percent.

"The increase can be mainly attributed to increased lodge concession fees, retail activities and tourism growth." In the last financial year Sanparks' realised income before investing activities amounted to R39,26 million compared to 40,03 million in 2005.

According to the report this is mainly attributed to improved gross revenue due to tourism growth, increased lodge concession fees and retail activities, as well as an increase of R17,09 million in operational grants "mainly due to the grant received from the Deaprtment of Water Affairs and Forestry (Dwaf) for the management of the Knysna Forest areas.

There was also an incread of R12,12 million in donations. These are offset by the effect of inflation on expenditure, and a decrease of R3,22 million in income from the sale of fauna and flora.

There was also "increased compensation of employees due to normal salary adjustments but mainly due to increased head count as a result of the addition of the Knysna Forest Area and Camdeboo National Park; and increased administration expenses primarily due to increased maintenance costs of R6,23 million due to continuous efforts to upgrade and refurbish tourism infrastructure, as well as increased expenses due to the addition of the Knysna Forest Area." Actual Performance versus budget "Sanparks budgeted for a profit of R50,10 million.

A profit of R41,35 million was achieved in 2006. The deviation with the budget of R8,75 million is mainly due to Wild card income not materialsing as expected, increased depreciation due to the capitalisation of assets acquired with expanded public works programme funding, increased maintenance due to routine road maintenance in the Kruger National Park that could not be done in 2005 which lead to increased maintenance for 2006. The fires in 2006 also contributed to the overspending, however, this was reduced by assistance received from Working on Fire."

Kruger National Park - South African Safari