National Minister of Tourism, the Honourable Derek Hanekom, launched a tourism industry first at Indaba on Sunday, May 10 – a self-regulation project for open safari vehicles (OSVs) in the Kruger National Park.
The project is a partnership initiative between South African National Parks (SANParks) and the Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA).
According to SANParks Managing Executive: Tourism Development and Marketing, Glenn Phillips, as part of the implementation of the SANParks Responsible Tourism Strategy “…our partnership with the open safari vehicle industry was identified as an area that required better regulation, safety and monitoring.”
He said in order to achieve this, SANParks worked very closely with SATSA and the industry during the past year to formulate a self-regulation model that is believed to be not only sustainable, but will drive both growth and transformation.
SANParks has over 250 OSVs owned by private businesses operating within the Kruger National Park. “These operators contribute significantly to SANParks’ revenue while offering tourists a unique game viewing opportunity and in an effort to not only regulate but also strengthen this sector, SANParks has recognized that self-regulation model would best suit OSV operation in the park and we look forward to a full implementation of this model which can also be duplicated throughout the adventure industry,” said Phillips.
SATSA, an association of inbound tourism businesses which has for some time assisted in negotiations between OSV operators and SANParks, was chosen as the implementing industry partner.
“Drawing on the approach begun with the National Department of Tourism around self-regulation of the adventure tourism industry nationally, we mooted this as a possible solution and it was welcomed by senior SANParks executives. It is envisaged that following a successful launch in KNP, the modality can be rolled out to other SANParks areas. We are honoured to have been chosen to facilitate this project and look forward to taking it from regulation to partnership,” comments David Frost, SATSA Chief Executive Officer.
The broader purpose of driving growth for both SANParks and the operators will be achieved by enhancing the Kruger National Park as a destination of choice and ensuring improved regulations and their adherence. SATSA, as a member-driven industry association, will also take up lobbying issues such as the difficulties operators face in obtaining their operating licenses.
With transformation a critical issue for SANParks, the new permit fee includes a transformation contribution from every operator. Further, a Transformation Task Team will identify relevant projects with clear focus on sustainability and rural community beneficiation, with the objectives of imparting business management skills and providing greater market access. The aim is to develop a robust project that provide real business impact.