13 June 2005
"Encouraging progress, and renewed energy to speed up the integration and development of the park", this was how Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, described the outcomes of a meeting on Friday in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, of the South African, Mozambican and Zimbabwean Ministers responsible for the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP).
At the meeting the Ministers discussed the progress that has been made in developing the 35000km2 transboundary park, which will eventually form the core of a transfrontier conservation area measuring in excess of 100 000km2, creating Africa's largest animal kingdom.
The Ministers agreed that the much-anticipated opening of the new Giriyondo Border Post between the Kruger National Park (KNP) on the South African side and the Limpopo National Park (LNP) in Mozambique will be amongst the most important regional conservation developments in recent times. In the light of this significance it was recommended that the border post should officially be opened by the Heads of State, at a date to be determined by their availability, but possibly before the end of the year. The new border post will, for the first time ever, ensure ease of tourist access within the park between South Africa and Mozambique.
Other developments which were reported on in the meeting include renewed efforts to restore animal migratory routes, centering on plans to drop a further 30km of fence between the KNP and LNP by the end of the year. This will also create opportunities for small businesses and create employment opportunities for local communities.
The Ministers also approved plans to translocate additional game from the Kruger National Park and Gonarezhou National Park to the Limpopo National Park, which lost a substantial number of game during Mozambique's civil war.
Furthermore, the meeting was briefed that a total of 170km of road network in the GLTP has so far been opened and graded, the construction of bedded lodges and bush camps is underway, and that the process to improve linkages between the parks, with specific emphasis on the crossing point and access road between Gonarezhou National Park (GNP) and the KNP will be a key component of the 2005 Action Plan.
It was agreed that there is a need to improve the branding and marketing of the GLTP and the Joint Management Board has been tasked to develop a marketing strategy by the end of the year.
The Ministers expressed their satisfaction with the GLTP progress thus far, saying that the dream of seeing the park positively contributing to poverty alleviation for surrounding communities was rapidly taking shape, and that the developments underway, and the implementation of an aggressive marketing campaign, were bound to result in increased levels of tourism success.
The meeting also discussed the positioning of the GLTP to take advantage of the 2010 Soccer World Cup, with further details to be discussed when Minister Van Schalkwyk hosts nine of his Southern African counterparts at a meeting in Johannesburg on Monday (13 June 2005), aimed at discussing a regional approach to unlock the tourism potential of Southern Africa's transfrontier parks.
All members of the media are invited to a media briefing after Monday's meeting at Johannesburg International Airport's Holiday Inn Hotel, starting at 13:15.
For more information, please contact:
Mr JP Louw
Chief Director of Communications
Cell: 082 569 3340
South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism: 12 June 2005
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