South African National Parks (SANParks) announced that accommodation at most of its parks will reopen from the 14th of August. However, visitors will only be permitted to visit a park in their resident province. Therefore, a resident will be required to provide proof of residence at the time of booking accommodation and again when checking in.
“Inter-provincial visitors will be prohibited entry into the parks. No more than two people will be allowed per accommodation unit except for parents and children,” stated SANParks in a statement.
This came after an announcement by the Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane that inter-provincial leisure accommodation will now be allowed. Tour operators will be allowed to conduct guided tours in open safari vehicles. SANParks said that these vehicles would be permitted as soon as the regulations pertaining to their operations are gazetted.
Local tour operators around Hoedspruit and Phalaborwa were overjoyed at the fact that after four months of inactivity they would again be able to earn an income. Commenting after the tourism minister’s speech, CEO of SANParks, Fundisile Mketeni, said that they understand the eagerness of the public, but caution still needs to be exercised.
“We appreciate that after four months of confinement, the public is keen to engage with nature, however, we are obligated to ensure that the opening of our national parks for accommodation is done under the strictest health protocols to safeguard both our staff and guests. Therefore, accommodation will not run at full capacity as we will employ a phased-in approach to opening. Our loyal guests can expect limited availability of accommodation in some parks at these beginning stages of our reopening, with a gradual increase in availability in the next few weeks,” stated Mketeni.
Mketeni said that SANParks is likely to implement some additional visitor management procedures to ease entry into the parks and further mitigate the risk of the spread of Coronavirus.
“Tour operators will be allowed to conduct guided tours in open safari vehicles subject to directives that are still to be communicated and gazetted. Self-drive guests are restricted to a 70% vehicle capacity as per the Department of Transport’s regulations published on April 2,” he concluded.