3 May 2007
On 16 October 2007, Namibia and South Africa's Ministers for Home Affairs opened the Sendelingsdrift Tourist Access Facility, thus enabling tourists and local communities to travel between Namibia and South Africa through the Transfrontier Park.
On the same day, the ministers for the Environment from the two countries officially commissioned the restored pontoon that allows visitors to cross the Orange River.
"This pontoon symbolises joint approaches to tourism across a shared border," said Minister Konjore of Namibia. "We are no longer planning tourism country by country. We are looking at regional tourism planning and seeing how best we can harness it for the benefit of all".
Progress Report: 1997 - 2006
- An MoU toward the establishment of /Ai /Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park was signed by the respective Ministers of the Environment on 17 August 2001. This was preceded by extensive community consultations, as Richtersveld National Park is owned by the Richtersveld communities and jointly managed with SANParks. This management structure allows full participation by the local communities through elected members representing the four towns in the area (Kuboes, Sanddrift, Lekkersing and Eksteenfontein), as well as the local pastoralists.
- In 2001 the partner countries appointed an international coordinator to be the driving force in the transfrontier park's development; the position was funded by the Foundation.
- Presidents Nujoma and Mbeki signed a treaty establishing the transfrontier park on 1 August 2003.
- While /Ai /Ais Hot Springs and the Fish River Canyon on the Namibian side offered good accommodation, Richtersveld National Park had limited facilities. The South African government's poverty relief fund supported the upgrading of roads and Nama huts for educational purposes, and the construction of entrance gates, four new rest camps and the establishment of socio-ecology offices.
- The Joint Management Board was appointed in 2004 and subsequently drafted the management, tourism and financial plans.
- To guide the development of the Orange River borderline, 18 scientists from varying disciplines formed an informal interest group, the Gariep Transfrontier Research Group, which will collaborate with Biota Southern Africa to develop a database of the area's ecological and socio-economic factors.
- An entrance gate to /Ai /Ais Hot Springs Game Park was built at Dreigat.
- In 2006 the consolidation of the establishment of the /Ai /Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park as a keystone initiative prior to the unfolding of the bigger TFCA process, was successfully concluded.
- Also in 2006, the development of the Lower Orange River area as a single unit across the international border, all along the 670 km long sensitive Orange River borderline, received the political buy-in from both the Karas region and the Northern Cape regional government. A resource management plan for the transfrontier park's Orange River section is presently being negotiated with stakeholders in both partner countries, and a TFCA development strategy for areas contiguous to the entire Lower Orange River is being drafted.
- The TFCA route was chosen by both partner countries as the most effective way for the region to benefit from the 2010 World Cup Soccer event.
- The pontoon at Sendelingsdrift was refurbished and customs and immigration offices, as well as staff housing on both sides of the Orange River are being built to enable the opening of a tourism access facility in 2007.
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