National parks and protected areas are under dichotomy of pressures. On the one hand, they are faced with increasing economic burdens to become independent from state and donor grants, and on the other hand, they need to fulfill their mandate of conserving the environment for future generations. The South African National Parks (SANParks) is no different. Operating costs for managing 19 national parks are roughly 1 billion rand and requires management to generate 80% thereof in order to meet their primary mandate, i.e., conservation. The question thus arises how to balance these important yet opposing priorities. Interpretation is mooted as a possible solution to strive toward this balance. Through interpretation knowledge is instilled in visitors, attitudes and behaviors are changed, and tourists are encouraged to take care of the national parks and to become more responsible citizens. Added to this, interpretation services add to the visitors’ enjoyment, create loyalty, extend stays, and increase expenditure and revenue for the park. Interpretation is therefore no longer seen as a ‘luxury’ but an essential management function of national parks worldwide and this is also the case in SANParks. This chapter reviews recent developments relating to the renewal or redevelopment of interpretation programs within SANParks.
Part of the book: National Parks