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Speaking at Cape Town`s Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens at the launch of this year`s National Tourism Month, which will be next month, he said preparations had started on a joint marketing plan for the area, to be presented at a “high-level investor conference” next year.
“We aim this year to initiate the development of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Area, which will combine national parks, private game parks and conservancies, hunting areas, eco-tourism development areas and communal land.”
These would be brought together into a “world-class ecotourism destination… with some 100 000km² under protection”.
The existing Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park – which straddles parks and sanctuaries across the borders between Mozambique, Zimbabwe and SA and includes the Kruger National Park – covers about 35 000km².
He said a further 20km of fence between the Kruger National Park and Mozambique would be taken down.
“Over the past year SA has invested R40m in tourism-related infrastructure (in the transfrontier park), dropped large portions of the border fence, and completed the construction ofSA`s side of the Giriyondo border post. ”
It was also planned to build a bridge across the Limpopo to improve access between the Zimbabwe and South African portions of the transfrontier park.
Van Schalkwyk also highlighted plans to turn KwaZulu-Natal`s St Lucia Wetland Park into what he described as “the first transfrontier marine park and the first transfrontier world heritage site in Africa”.
“The next phase will see us expanding our partnership with Mozambique and Swaziland, whose ministers I will be meeting before the end of November,” the minister said.
The country’s tourism month is a joint venture between government and the tourism industry, and is aimed, among other things, at encouraging South Africans to travel within their own country.
This year’s events will culminate in a ceremony on September 27 in Phalaborwa in Limpopo to mark World National Tourism