SANParks counts millions lost due to hard lockdown

The Table Mountain National Park and other parks across the country were closed during the lockdown period last year and with foreign tourism virtually non-existent, the parks are hoping South Africans will tour their own country to make up the gap.

FILE: A group of tourists get off their tour bus at the bottom of the cable station to Table Mountain in Cape Town. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - South African National Parks (SANParks) is counting the cost of months of hard lockdown, saying the COVID-19 pandemic had cost it millions of rand in lost revenue.

The Table Mountain National Park and other parks across the country were closed during the lockdown period last year and with foreign tourism virtually non-existent, the parks are hoping South Africans will tour their own country to make up the gap.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought tourism to a halt, fewer foreign visitors meant shorter queues at local parks and less income.

When you consider that the Kruger National Park alone usually makes close to R3 million a day, the loss comes into sharp focus.

SANParks general manager for the Cape Region Norman Johnson said they had also seen a drop in visitor numbers.

“In the previous year, we had a total of 1.7 million visitors and in the same year, during the COVID period, we had 225,000 visitors.”

Between April 2019 and the end of January 2020, Table Mountain National Park generated R300 million - last year it managed only R36 million.

“Where we are sitting now, the prospects for generating the revenue that we normally have for the upcoming year for 2021/22 seems very bleak.”

The park's management acknowledge it's going to be a long road to recovery but they are encouraged by rising visitor numbers as lockdown regulations ease.

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