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Media Release: South African National Parks (SANParks) Launches Wild Card for Tour Operators

14 May 2007

South African National Parks is pleased to announce the launch of a Wild Card for tour operators, developed in discussion with leading operator Thompson’s Tours.

The new card will completely eliminate the need for paper vouchers, and the as-sociated risk factors like theft and fraud, that may occur when large tour groups enter our national parks.

The participating tour operator, will be issued with a Wild Card terminal and the required number of Wild Cards to be carried by its tour guides and drivers. At any time prior to the arrival of a tour group at any national park gate, the operator will electronically purchase the appropriate number of electronic vouchers from SANParks and will load these vouchers onto the tour guide’s Wild Card. These vouchers cannot be removed from the tour guide’s card except by the Wild Card terminal, and cannot be used to purchase anything else.

When the tour group arrives at the park gate, the Wild Card is inserted into the terminal and the number of visitors in the group is established. The terminal then removes these vouchers from the card; printing out two copies of receipts one for the tour guide, and the other retained by the gate staff. In addition, the tour operator will on a monthly basis or by special request receive a full reconciliation of electronic vouchers purchased and used, including information regarding the location and time when the vouchers were used.

The Wild Card is available at different prices for adults and children as well as for both South African residents and foreign nationals. The electronic vouchers are park-specific due to price differences in various parks and are valid until used.

“The system is currently being piloted by Thompson’s Tours at Table Mountain and Kruger National Parks. The two parks were strategically chosen for the pilot because they both handle huge tour operator traffic, have good telecommunications systems and their steady visitor frequency for both local and international tour groups”, said Dr Mabunda, Chief Executive of SANParks.

Thompson’s Senior Buying Manager Erica Gardner, comments: “Thompson’s are thrilled to have the opportunity to test the pilot programme for National Parks. We believe that the Wild Card Tour Operator programme will give enormous benefit to both parties.

From our side we do not have to worry about ensuring that our tour guides and drivers are in possession of exact numbers of entrance tickets.  This gives us ex-tra security and efficiency. We can load the required numbers of entrance vouch-ers required even after the tour has begun, allowing us the opportunity to sell right up to the last minute”.

“There is time saving and efficiency gain when the tour reaches the entrance gate, and just with one swipe of the card, the administrative process required is facilitated. We will be able to manage our financials through the monthly reporting system provided by SANParks,” concluded Gardner

Mabunda further added, “We are confident that the pilot will be a success and we plan to go on full system as soon as the de-briefing for both pilots has been finalised, and all system bugs rectified. We will then be ready to roll out nationally incorporating all other 19 national parks including Ezemvelo KwaZulu Natal Wild-life, who are keen to follow suit”.

Issued by: South African National Parks


Wanda Mkutshulwa
Head: Communications
Cell: 082-908-2692

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