Taking their cue from recent trends, SANParks are upgrading many of its products, focusing on an environmentally friendly and value for money approach.
This according to SANParks, Tourism and Marketing, Managing Executive, Glen Phillips, who made the announcement at the Toursim Indaba held in Durban form May 7 to 11, 2010.The new developments include the revamping of the Golden Gate Hotel situated in the mountainous eastern Free State. The hotel, which previously had 35 rooms, now boasts 54 rooms.
The hotel is now open to the public for bookings. The Mata Mata rest camp bordering Namibia has also been given a major face-lift. The older chalets have been upgraded, the prefabs removed and eight newly built thatched chalets are also open to the public.
Philips said, Tankwa Karoo National Park, situated on the southern boundary of the Northern Cape has received a new campsite at Perdekloof, while Agulhas National Park located at the most southern tip of Africa has a new rest camp at Piet se Punt. The revamped heritage guest-house at Piet se Punt makes it one of the modern heritage sites in SANParks stable.
The Interpretive Centre in Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site is expected to open in September. Mapungubwe is located in the northern part of the country where South Africa meets Botswana and Zimbabwe on the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe rivers.
Phillips said when compared to trends in the industry, SANParks has had a fantastic year. "We forecast 2009/10 to be a flat year, however year end results revealed a 0, 8% growth with an overall occupancy of 73,3%."
The unit nights sold were 531,018 compared to the 521,018 sold in the previous year. Phillips said in terms of camp person sold the 675 392 recorded are better than the 604, 900 sold in the previous year.
According to Phillips, less international arrival were seen from Germany (from 32.0% to 28,4%) United Kingdom (from 13.6% to 13,5%) and Holland (from 11.1% to 10,5%). More visitors from France (growing from 6.9% to 9,1%) and the United States moved from 5,0% to 5,4%, visited than in previous years.
He said SANParks flagship project, the Wild Card, continues to be one of the most popular loyalty programmes. This year the organisation has sold 105 687 cards."
"Our efforts to transform the national parks visitors demographics is continuing to yield good results with the growth in black visitors growing to 406,085, a 17,5% increase from 345 559 from the last financial year."
He said that from a financial perspective, "Despite the unfavorable global economic situation, SANParks has seen good returns in tourism income. In the 2008/09 financial year a total of R532,459M was recorded in comparison to R598,512M recorded in the 2009/10 financial year.'