Industry raises concerns over SANParks’ fee increase

The industry has reacted to South African National Parks’ (SANParks) recent announcement of its new fee structure for Table Mountain National Park (TMNP), effective November 1, 2018, where the 4:2:1 ratio will be introduced, also known as differential conservation fees. 

The tourism industry is left concerned over TMNP’s new differential conservation fees

Fees will vary according to three categories, SA residents, Southern African Development Communities (SADC) residents, and Standard (foreigners), with foreign visitors having to bear the brunt of the fee increase.

Reynold Thakhuli, GM: Media, PR and Stakeholder Relations for SANParks explains the 4:2:1 ratio pricing strategy, where an initial price is set for SA residents (R75 /€4), which is then multiplied by two for SADC residents (R150/€9), and quadrupled for foreigners (R300/€18).

The rest of the parks had already adopted the system in 2003. “The Cape region had not applied it due to some complexity with the systems at TMNP, but this has been the norm for a considerable time in other national parks,” said Thakhuli. He said that the 4:2:1 principle was something that had been applied all over the world, and had been effective in parks such as the Kruger and Addo for many years.

The fee increase is as follows: from R75 at Boulders to R150, and Cape Point from R145 to R300 for international travellers.

The tourism industry has raised concerns over the significant fee increase for foreign visitors, as many operators have already started packaging for 2018 and risk taking the financial loss.

Celine Browne, Owner of Africa Focus Tours commented: “The SANParks tariff increase is a big problem, as it is already hard to justify a yearly increase of 10%, so imagine 50%.”

Browne said most of her prices had already been published and clients had already started selling the destination; now she would need to inform them about the adjustment.

Illana Clayton, CEO of Travel Smart Crew (TSC) said TMNP was already profitable, so this was an effort to subsidise the many parks that were not.

She said the proposed new Kruger National Park fee of R368 (€22) for internationals was understandable considering the long distances they drove within the park and the effect of this on the infrastructure, the facilities used, and the average time spent in the park by a visitor.

“With TMNP, however, I would question the value as there are multiple entrance fees for what is effectively the same park, mostly visited the same day by internationals, as most internationals who visit the Peninsula will be on a full-day guided tour, and majority will do both Cape Point and Boulders, therefore the proposed cost totals R450 (€27), which is significantly higher than KNP,” she said.

Clayton said she assumed that internationals spent less time in the park during a visit than locals, therefore having less of an impact on the park as they tended to visit in fewer vehicles (coaches, group tours, etc.), make more use of restaurants and contribute a higher value in curio shop sales.

“International guests have limited time in Cape Town with a variety of choices of how to spend their time and money. The effect of this on a Peninsula day tour is significant and the long-term effects of fewer visitors through PR, media, reviews and testimonials is going to impact TMNP,” concluded Clayton.

“I don’t understand why the ratio 4:2:1, which applies to all other parks, needs to be applied to TMNP now, as the average time spent in the Kruger may be between a half to a full day, whereas a visit to Boulders is usually around one hour and in Cape Point groups are there for a couple of hours maximum. The ratio of the price is not justified, in my opinion,” concluded Browne.

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