Environment,Tourism and Sport
The country has more than 290 conservation parks. It is home to almost 300 mammal species, about 860 bird species and 8 000 plant species. The annual sardine run is the biggest migration on the planet.
SANParks manages a system of 19 functional national parks in seven of the nine provinces of South Africa with a total area of just over four million hectares comprising 67% of the protected areas under state management. The SANParks of today is recognised as a world leader in conservation and protected area management. In the last two decades, seven new national parks have been established, totalling over 700 000 hectares, with much of this being in the under-conserved biomes such as the Succulent Karoo and Fynbos.
The national parks include
The national parks offer a variety of accommodation. Tourism activities within the parks include self-drive safaris, game-viewing, accommodation tariffs, adventure activities, such as guided walks and hiking, birdwatching, 4×4 trails, sightseeing, cultural and historical experiences, mountain biking, golf, canoeing and swimming.
The best-known park is Kruger National Park, which is also the oldest (proclaimed in 1898), and the largest, at nearly 20 000 km2). Kruger National Park and Table Mountain National Park are two of South Africa’s most visited tourist attractions.
South Africa comprises 10 UNESCO world heritage sites and is divided into eight biomes.
The heritage sites are:
- Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa
- Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape
- Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape
- Robben Island
- ǂKhomani Cultural Landscape
- Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains
- Cape Floral Region Protected Areas
- iSimangaliso Wetland Park
- Vredefort Dome
The biomes in South Africa are the:
- Succulent Karoo
- Nama Karoo
The country is considered to be the cradle of humankind and boasts 40% of all hominid finds on Earth.
Tourism, with its extensive value chain and labour absorption capacity, remains an important contributor to the South African economy. It is a significant earner of foreign exchange and provides employment to people of varying skills levels. It promotes geographic spread of benefits such as employment and economic opportunities.
It has the ability to expand economic activity to rural areas. With more than 54% of the tourism workforce being women, including those from rural areas, the sector can play a critical role in promoting the financial and economic inclusion of women. In addition, through its significant forward and backward linkages with other economic sectors, tourism has a major impact on the wider economy.
As a truly aspirational destination, combining powerful social justice history, breathtaking natural beauty and warm, welcoming and diverse people, South Africa’s tourism potential is immeasurable.
Top reasons to visit South Africa
South Africa is a rewarding country to sell because it offers so much for everyone. Visitors can expect a wealth of unique sights and experiences.
- Affordability: Although there are plenty of globally award-winning five-star establishments and luxury lodges, there are also superb value-for-money budget accommodation, tours and experiences all over the country.
- Wildlife: South Africa is one of the world’s top game-viewing destinations.
- Beaches: South Africa has some of the world’s finest beaches, from the popular Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban ones, to many that are unspoiled and remote.
- Scenic beauty: South Africa really is many worlds in one. Expect stunning coastlines, dramatic mountainscapes, huge areas of untamed bushveld, starkly beautiful semi-deserts, lakes, waterfalls, spectacular canyons, forests and wide plains, plus Cape Town, undeniably one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
- Food: One of South Africa’s unique offerings is our hearty hospitality and of course, our hearty meals. This is, without a doubt, one of the reasons South Africa is home to world-renowned chefs, culinary excellence and the finest wine in the world.
- Friendliness: Over and over again, visitors comment on the friendliness they encounter everywhere in South Africa. The people of our “Rainbow Nation” are made up of many diverse cultures and give visitors a warm welcome wherever they go.
- Weather: South Africa has some of the best weather in the world – rarely too hot, rarely too cold, and the sun shines most of the time.
- Adventure activities: It is hard to beat South Africa when it comes to the great outdoors and adventure activities. Whether your clients are adrenalin junkies or just want to get active, choose from bungee jumping and shark cage diving, to hiking, horse riding, whale watching, snorkelling, scuba diving, hiking and scores more adventures.
- History: Travel back in time to some of the oldest mountains on Earth; some of our early ancestors at the Cradle of Humankind; the ruins of an ancient African royal kingdom; South Africa’s oldest castle; historic battlefields where Boers, Zulus and Brits clashed and died; gold-rush towns; and iconic sites of the Freedom Struggle.
- Excellent infrastructure: South Africa has excellent major transport networks, good tourist facilities, safe drinking water nearly everywhere, a superb banking system with numerous ATMs countrywide, good accommodation for all pockets, and mouth-watering eating options.
- Responsible tourism: South Africa is recognised globally for its major conservation efforts and its protected areas. It is also committed to community and conservation projects and aims to be as “green” as possible.
South Africa is among a few countries that have participated in World Cups of all three major and arguably most popular sports – cricket, football and rugby.
South Africa has also hosted a number of international sports meetings such as the 1995 Rugby World Cup, 1996 African Cup of Nations, 2003 Cricket World Cup, the 2007 World Twenty20 Championship and the 2010 FIFA World Cup, making it the first African country to ever host the FIFA World Cup.
Our sportsmen and women have proven countless times why we retain World Champion status in green, gold and white.
The 2023 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup was held in Cape Town in February 2023.
– Sources: SA Yearbook, UNESCO, southafrica-info.com, StatsSA, SanParks, Brand SA and southafrica.net