The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town attracted more than one million visitors last year.
“The milestone achieved by Kirstenbosch is a tribute to the hard work and vision of the South African National Biodiversity Institute,” Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said.
He said attaining this historic milestone had secured Kirstenbosch’s status as one of the most important tourist attractions in South Africa.
Minister Hanekom said South Africa’s conservation and biodiversity assets depended on tourism for its survival.
“The tourism footprint in conservation areas and botanical gardens generates the income to support the sustainability of these assets,” he said.
SANParks generated 85 percent of its operational costs through tourism revenue, while less than one percent of the Kruger National Park’s two million hectares was dedicated to tourism infrastructure.
The income generated from tourism enabled SANParks to maintain its reputation as a world leader in the management of protected areas.
“The success of tourism underpins the sustainability of our conservation efforts,” Minister Hanekom said.
Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization of the United Nations (UNWTO), Taleb Rifai, said tourism could be one of the effective tools used for conservartion by providing resources for environmental preservation and by raising awareness among millions of people every year of the immense value of the country’s natural heritage and the responsibility to protect it.
SANBI CEO Dr Tanya Abrahamse said Kirstenbosch is an example how tourism and biodiversity could build a beneficial partnership and contribute to a more sustainable economic model.
“Kirstenbosch is well-known as a ‘must see’ destination when planning a trip to South Africa, so when international tourism experts visit the country it’s no surprise that they would like to visit this iconic spot,” Abrahamse. – SAnews.gov.za