Since its inception in 2006, National Parks Week has seen an influx of 551 393 day visitors in all participating parks. Picture: ANA Pics

South African National Park (SANParks) saw 113 032 visitors to the parks during South African National Parks Week September 8 - 15.

This was a 52.6 percent increase from last year’s 74 086. This campaign, under the theme ‘Know Your National Parks’, allowed locals with identity documents an opportunity to spend a day at a national park of their choice free of charge.

According to SANParks chief executive, Fundisile Mketeni the objective of the week was to give South Africans a chance to enjoy and experience the "beauty and majesty of our breathtaking National Parks". 

“We had an increase of just over 52 percent this year from last year’s 74 086 visitors. It was good to see smaller parks such as West Coast and Bontebok National Park had an increase in their numbers compared to previous years. SA National Parks Week aims to create a culture of pride in all South Africans in their relationship with the country’s natural, cultural and historical heritage. When people start to take pride in the national parks, then we believe that they will start to understand the importance of conservation,” Mketeni said.

The feature element of the campaign was the free access granted to South African day visitors. Since its inception in 2006, National Parks Week has seen an influx of 551 393 day visitors in all participating parks. “These numbers are encouraging and tell us that more people are taking advantage of this free week at our national Parks,” he added.

All the parks managed by SANParks, excluding Namaqua and Boulders at Table Mountain National Park, participated in the initiative to give the public an understanding of the role that SANParks plays as custodian of the country’s natural heritage. Each park hosted activities during the week which were aimed at education. 

“We are focused on involving young people and communities, to cultivate knowledge of the importance of conservation and an appreciation for the country’s natural heritage”, said Mketeni.

“The survival of the South African national parks system and our natural and cultural heritage lies in the people of South Africa,” he concluded.