Don’t discriminate against foreigners

AMJ Nypels, Muizenberg

I was shocked by your article, “Differential fee system for SANParks” in the Echo of November 23 about the coming introduction of a new, differential fee system for all SANParks.

They will start charging foreigners like me four times more than locals.

This is nothing more than blunt discrimination, based on origin. In a civilised country the constitution says: Everybody staying in the country must be treated equally in the same situation.

SANParks starts acting against this basic principle.

Imagine for instance international airlines start to do the same and charge South African passport holders four times more than their locals? Or at Shoprite, Shell, hotels, or every other business. Who do they think they are?

I do hope the tourism organisations start legal action against this, otherwise they will be blamed by their clients, who will be robbed in broad daylight by SANParks, and tourists are not mad. So this is a direct threat to tourism, cause visitors will find out and feeling heavily discriminated. I already do so, and will therefore not visit SANParks anymore. And I am quite a regular, often bringing in visitors from abroad.

SANParks general manager of strategic tourism services, Joep Stevens responds:

SANParks implemented differential tariffs in 2003 in all of its parks with the exclusion of Table Mountain National Park. At the time the differential system was implemented, a benchmarking exercise was embarked upon comparing conservation fees to those of reputable national parks locally, across Africa, and globally with rates that were set accordingly.

Conservation fees (replacing admission fees) were then implemented depending on the development phase, size and offering.

The bottom end of the range of fees (then) being charged for reputable parks in Africa was chosen for SANParks top parks. At that time this was US$15 (then R120) and was set at standard conservation fee for Kruger and Kgalagadi.

For the range of other national parks this was lower and due to high volumes and congestions at Boulders and Cape Point gates, this was never implemented in Table Mountain National Park. So, the benchmarked conservation fee was termed the standard conservation fee.

It was then decided to offer SA residents a reduced fee and the rationale was that, as SANParks receives an annual conservation grant from the state, which is funded by the fiscus, to which taxpayers contribute, this was justified.

Thus the decision (at the time)
to have the ratio at 4:1 for standard conservation fees to conservation fees for SA residents. This was widely consulted and approved and became the SANParks conservation fee pricing policy. As we are in process of implementing a new access system at Boulders and Cape Point, it will become possible to align the charges at these two access points with those being charged since 2004 in other national parks.

For long staying and regular visitors, the Wild Card membership is a very feasible option.