Media Release: SANParks Launches Upgraded Facilities at Bontebok NP
South African National Parks (SANParks) today announced the launch of the upgraded tourist facilities at a press briefing held at the Indaba Tourism Expo at the Coast of Dreams Hall, between the ICC and the DEC in Durban.
Among national parks that have received facelifts within SANParks, is Bontebok National Park. The park is the smallest, and one of the oldest national parks in South Africa and the world. Turning 76 this year, the park was proclaimed in 1931 at Bredasdorp, and was moved to Swellendam in 1960-61, making it the first park to be relocated.
Over the years, wear and tear took its toll on the rest camp, roads and other facilities. This, and the massive potential of the park, owing mainly to its location and scenic beauty, led SANParks’ management to prioritize BNP for development through poverty relief funding. Hence, the “Bontebok Park Empowering People” was one of the first Empowerment Public Works Projects (EPWP) to be implemented in SANParks in May 2004.
The upgraded facilities include a rest camp and a new road connecting the original park to 700 ha of new land donated in 2000 by the local municipality. The area includes a key site named “Die Stroom” riverside, which is a day visitor facility, formerly a recreation site run by the municipality. The area also provides a location for a new entrance off the N2 highway, as well as new tourist reception.
The new rest camp called “Lang Elsie’s Kraal” named after a Khoe-Khoe Chieftain who lived there with her clan in the 18th century, is the first rest camp in SANParks to be designed from concept to completion according to “Touch the Earth Lightly” design principles. The concept requires that the units should incorporate the latest thinking in terms of design and materials so as to have the minimum impact on the environment, maximum return on investment, and maximum benefit to the local economy.
All 10 new units sleep up to four people and they will enjoy majestic views of the Breede River valley and the Langeberg mountain range, which can be appreciated from the private sun-decks to the south and west sides of the units.
Universal access is a key principle applied in the planning of the camp. The new buildings have ramps throughout and are totally accessible to wheelchairs. Two of the 10 units will be “special-needs adapted” with bathrooms and living spaces which meet current best practice for use by people with special needs.
The project budgeted at R11 million began in May 2004, and is planned for completion in September 2007. In the past three years, the upgrade project has provided more than 35,000 man-days of work, employing over 200 individuals, 80% of which are historically disadvantaged people from the Swellendam area. By September, over 3,000 training days will have been completed, most of which will be focused on construction skills training and transfer.
Dr David Mabunda, Chief Executive of SANParks said, “We have used more than 50 local small businesses and helped create six new BEE enterprises. We have also helped many more of our local beneficiaries to register as emerging contractors and entrepreneurs, and to find permanent work. More than R6 million of the project budget will thus have been paid out to SMMEs on this project”.
The new facilities will be a huge boost to the tourism local entrepreneurs with the provision of services such as horse trails, laundry and cleaning services, retail outlets, nature guiding, tours as well as Bed & Breakfast services close to the park.
The upgrade concept was planned in consultation with the local stakeholders through a public participation process and incorporated into the park’s Conservation Development Framework.
“The Project has the full support and appreciation of the local and district municipalities, local communities, government partners and other stakeholders. It will celebrate 50 years at the current location in Swellendam in 2010 by which time all planned upgrades will be completed”, Mabunda concluded.
Issued by: South African National Parks