Thriving ecotourism activities support South African National Parks (SANParks)

National conservation parastatal in South Africa maintaining a network of 22 protected areas accounting for 37 000 km2 or 4% of the nations land area (an additional 4.9% is formally protected as provincial parks, and public and private game reserves). It has an annual budget of close to R1 billion ($65 million), and 80% of this is self-generated driven by thriving tourism activities. Moreover, this revenue allows SANParks to expand the conservation estate year on year, with 700 000ha added since the advent of democracy in1994.

Proceeds from Tourism within SANParks flagship parks, the Kruger National Park and Table Mountain National Park are able to maintain conservation management of the other 20 protected areas in our estate. In addition, successful management of these areas and tourism product diversification has ensured that SANParks is now largely fiscally independent. Furthermore, these proceeds also support a wide variety of community benefaction projects and environmental education/outreach project through the conservation fee communication levy, for entry into national parks. Through this, over 200 000 school students in South Africa benefit from

SANParks outreach programs annually, which includes bringing deprived children from communities adjacent to conservation areas into the national parks for visits as well as providing them access to outreach activities such as world environment day, national water game amongst others. A number of other activities include such as youth camps and junior ranger programmes:

SANParks is constantly diversifying its tourism product portfolio to adapt to changing demands both in South Africa and globally. It has also recently developed a responsible tourism strategy which outlines the conservation growth path within a tourism context for the next decade:

SANParks is an active partner in transboundary tourism sharing management of conservation areas in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. And through this SANParks is an active collaborator in trans-continental tourism co-operation with other protected area management agencies, there are numerous examples of this that can be found on the SANParks website as well as in popular and scientific literature. Importantly SANParks also has a strong scientific research agenda that is used directly to inform management.

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