Reading an article from Tourism Update South Africa, one article jumped out at me, “SANParks Unveils Investment Opportunities”. I stopped to read and found my assumptions were right… National Park land is being eyeballed for further development!

According to Tourism Update, Hapiloe Sello made a statement at the SANParks Investment Summit, held on the 4 April 2017, where she emphasised the Kruger National Park was less than 5% developed and that it was capped at 10% development. Intimating that there are opportunities for development.

SANParks writes about its PPP (Public Private Partnerships) opportunities on it’s website by explaining;

“The purpose of PPPs is to reduce the cost of delivery; improve service levels by focusing on core business; leverage private capital and expertise; expand the range of tourism products; and to generate additional revenue for the funding of conservation and constituency building.” 10/04/2017

Under the guise of “funding of conservation and constituency building” SANParks has it’s eyes on attracting investors in a potential 20-year lease on developing areas of National Parks.

The Parks that are up for grabs in this “investment” tenders, are the world renowned Kruger National Park, Table Mountain National Park, West Coast National Park, Garden Route National Park, Karoo National Park, and the Marakele National Park according to Tourism Update.

Why is it that National Parks are seen as empty when there are few buildings on the land? Surely the point of a National Park is to preserve the land, make as little impact on it and show it off to the world as a show case of our affection and love of Nature.

There are already numerous opportunities to stay outside the National Parks. There are specially organised game drives and additional extras that can be sought from these private lodges. Staying within any National park should be a special occasion, raw and simple. To experience the parks at their best.

There are plenty of other ‘Parks’ that can be exploited for financial gain, but the National Parks should be maintained to a standard that the people who visit are in awe of the landscape and wildlife and not at the amazing franchised coffee houses and expensive restaurants.

If we lose sight of these precious wild spaces and turn them into larger luxury resorts which result in buildings with wild animals wandering through their grounds, how different is it from the city life we know already?

Soon, the larger animals will become a problem, the predators will be tracked and collared to ensure we are safe, and finally the “wild” natural space we have come to enjoy will be nothing more than a visit to a larger zoo, where animals are kept for our entertainment and not their own preservation.

SANParks, please reconsider what a special environment you have. Don’t sell out to business offering large capital now only to leave you with a place urbanised and devoid of the life Africa knows.

I propose that “Investment” be sought to improve service within the national parks, upgrade buildings and develop what is already in the camps. There is so much opportunity to make the experience even better. Trained staff are of more benefit to you than any new shiny building you can build!

To read the full article from Tourism Update, please visit SanParks Unveils Investment Opportunities.

To read the 2017 opportunities list up for tender you can visit The SANParks Tourism Investment Summit 2017. There are a few places which require additional funding in the investment opportunities pdf that work with existing buildings, but please consider the impact of greater structures.

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