Since its inception in 2006; National Parks Week, under the theme 'Know Your National Parks', has seen an influx of over 691,418-day visitors in all participating parks.
SanParks chief executive officer, Hapiloe Sello says that the idea of a national parks focus week is a worldwide campaign. “The week was established in a bid to cultivate a sense of pride in South Africa’s natural, cultural and historical heritage, protected by the national parks system. It is also in line with the SanParks vision statement of 'A Sustainable National Park System Connecting Society'."
The week grants free access to most of the 21 national parks for day visitors, especially people from the local communities. It should be noted that free access to parks does not include free access to accommodation facilities and other tourist activities. Some of the parks will be extending the week to include the two weekends.
"It’s important for South Africans to visit and know the importance of national parks. "
"They act as spaces to practice sustainable conservation, as spaces that preserve and celebrate our culture and heritage, and we now see national parks playing the critical role of empowering communities living adjacent to parks through job creation and we continue to explore ways of creating business opportunities particularly for small business owners," says Sello.
"This initiative aims to give the public an understanding of the role that SANParks plays as custodian of the country’s natural heritage. If we are to create a sense of ownership of the natural heritage of South Africa in all South Africans, then all South Africans must be able to have access to such.
"Visit a national park this year for free during SA National Parks Week, to see what it has to offer and do your part by getting to know your national parks, celebrate your rich heritage offering and experience first-hand the iconic beauty and plethora of natural flora and fauna," concludes Sello.