South African National Parks (SANParks) has advised customers that it is not open for overnight accommodation under Level 3 lockdown regulations on leisure and interprovincial travel.

Despite having announced on June 19 that it was preparing to recall hospitality staff for a phased-in approach for the reopening of its overnight facilities, SANParks has suspended all overnight bookings for July.

The public will be advised in due course when bookings open and SANParks advises those with overnight bookings to postpone their travel and not cancel.

“We are parastatal, therefore we must comply and ensure regulations are implemented,” Ike Phaahla, gm communications and marketing of SANParks, told Travel News’s sister publication, Tourism Update. “We are abiding by the regulations as per what has been gazetted.”

SANParks ceo, Fundisile Mketeni, said they understood that many domestic tourists were eager to enjoy the tranquillity offered by national parks. “We urge tourists to be patient until leisure travel and interprovincial travel regulations are implemented,” said Fundisile.

There has been much confusion whether or not leisure travel is allowed, even at an intra-provincial level, under Advanced Level 3. Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, stands by what she said in her briefing last Friday (June 26).

Fundisile advised travellers to continue supporting government efforts to minimise the impact of COVID-19 by adhering to lockdown rules. “We are seeing increasing infection numbers and, regrettably, the loss of lives as well. This is a reminder that a decision to open up our facilities has to be well-considered to ensure our colleagues, tourists and their friends and families’ health are not compromised,” he said.