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Media Release: SANParks Online Real-time Booking System Goes Live

Date: 27th November 2007

It is with great excitement that today, on the website’s birthday, SANParks launches its real-time booking system. Earlier this month at World Travel Market (WTM), in London, Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, described the launch the SANParks real-time booking system as a move “that will catapult South Africa’s premier conservation agency into a world class tourism agency which has embraced the potential presented by the online environment”.

It is with great excitement that today, on the website’s birthday, SANParks launches its online, real-time booking system. Earlier this month at World Travel Market (WTM), in London, Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, described the launch the SANParks real-time booking system as a move “that will catapult South Africa’s premier conservation agency into a world class tourism agency which has embraced the potential presented by the online environment”.

This system enables members of the public (but not yet the commissioned Travel Trade) to complete their entire booking online in a few relatively simple steps. After a once-off registration, clients can browse accommodation availability in various parks and camps, build an itinerary and pay with their credit cards wherever they are. The reservation is then confirmed through an email.

“This was the inevitable next step for SANParks to take, to keep us internationally competitive”, said Van Schalkwyk. Over 580 million people worldwide used the internet last year and spent over R15 billion. Buying online and tourism products accounted for a high proportion of that spend.

Not only can a real-time booking system increase business, or access new markets, it also means that SANParks’ established client base have more options to comfortably, confidently and conveniently book a visit to a South African national park. The system will also relieve the pressure on the SANParks call centre by empowering clients to book as and when it suits them.

The system has been designed to accommodate added functionality in the future, but for now SANParks is monitoring user feedback and assessing how the system performs. SANParks traditionally experiences very high volumes of traffic to the website and the reservations system at the beginning of each month when new accommodation becomes available, and during peak time, like school holidays. In order to ensure full integrity, an additional update takes place for about 2 hours every night. This, unfortunately, makes the system to be available 22/7, and not 24/7.

Issued by: South African National Parks
Inquiries: wanda mkutshulwa, Head of Communications, South African National Parks, Tel: +27124265201.