Due to COVID-19 regulations, the 15th annual SA National Parks Week will be held in November 2020.

In a statement on Tuesday, the South African National Parks (SANParks) Chief Executive Officer, Fundisile Mketeni, said the National Parks Week has been moved from September to November.

“SANParks has postponed the free access week, which is traditionally held in September, to November due to the COVID-19 alert level 2 regulations, which restrict the number of persons allowed within public spaces.

SANParks, together with Total South Africa and FNB, will host the 15th annual SA National Parks Week from 16 to 20 November 2020.

“Additionally, we have implemented extra visitor management procedures in the parks to manage visitor volumes, in line with regulations to further mitigate the risk of the spread of Coronavirus at this time,” said Mketeni.

The SA National Parks Week is an annual campaign that gives all South African citizens the opportunity to enter most of the parks managed by SANParks for free, with the exclusion of Namaqua National Park and Boulders section at Table Mountain National Park.

The free access to parks does not include free access to accommodation facilities and other tourist activities.

Every year, SANParks aims to increase the number of citizens that are granted free access to national parks during this time.

“Since we started the programme in 2006, some 551 393 South Africans have been afforded the opportunity to enter national parks, and we want to see these numbers grow.

“The week, in partnership with Total South Africa and FNB, is meant to cultivate a sense of pride in South Africa’s natural, cultural and historical heritage, and a deeper appreciation of biodiversity. It is important for South Africans to visit and know the importance of national parks,” Mketeni said.

Mketeni also highlighted the growing need for national parks to be relevant, particularly to young people and communities living adjacent to parks.

“Through our socio-economic transformation programmes, and our Expanded Public Works Programme, we work closely with communities living adjacent to national parks. [This is] in order to be more inclusive so we can tackle issues of wildlife crime with their help, afford them more access to parks for cultural use, inform young people about the different career options that parks have to offer and create job opportunities.

“SANParks hopes to strengthen and enable these communities to reap the benefits of the national parks,” Mketeni said.

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