The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park between Botswana and South Africa was established as Africa’s first Transfrontier Park in 1999. The establishment of this Park is testament to closer working relationships between countries in Southern Africa. Since then significant strides have been made across the region to establish additional Transfrontier Conservation Areas. Currently there are 18 TFCAs in various stages of development – six have been formally established, a further six are considered emerging and an additional six are currently at a conceptual stage.
Tourism is a prominent ecosystem service of this network of conservation areas. TFCAs are home to a set of impressive natural and cultural attractions in the region, such as the Victoria Falls, the Fish River Canyon, the Okavango Delta and the Maloti-Drakensberg Mountain Range. This creates the basis for development of authentic tourism products that are unique to southern Africa.
In order to facilitate the movement of tourists within a number of TFCAs, a number of border posts, also known as tourist access facilities, have been opened by the Presidents of respective member states. These facilities and a pontoon over the Orange River at Sendelingsdrift in the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld create a vital link between the Namibian and South African sections of this Transfrontier Park. Similarly, the tourist access facilities at Giriyondo between Mozambique and South Africa in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and at Mata Mata and Tweerivieren in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park between Namibia and South Africa and Botswana and South Africa respectively significantly improve the tourist experience within these TFCAs.
A univisa system has been piloted between Zambia and Zimbabwe to facilitate easier access for visitors to the popular Victoria Falls and Livingstone area that falls within the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area. Preparations are underway to expand such a service to other participating countries of the KAZA TFCA.
There is a strong geographical overlap between TFCAs and many of the region’s inscribed World Heritage Sites. The Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape, Mosi-oa-Tunya (Victoria Falls), the Okavango Delta, Mana Pools National Park and the Sapi and Chewori Safari Areas, the Maloti-Drakensburg Transfrontier Park, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the Mapungubwe National Park offer visitors a range of natural and cultural heritage experiences.
Boundless Southern Africa is a regional marketing initiative that promotes TFCAs as tourist and investment destinations in a consolidated manner to potential investors and tourists from around the world. What makes Boundless Southern Africa unique is that destinations are marketing in terms of ecosystems and not in terms of geographical and/or political boundaries.
In 2005 the Ministers of Tourism of the nine SADC Countries of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe endorsed a TFCA Development Strategy for 2010 and beyond. The strategy’s main objective is to increase the tourism potential of Southern Africa by consolidating marketing, infrastructure development and investment promotion efforts of the Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCA) initiatives. Initially seven TFCAs were identified to be marketed under this joint initiative in the first phase of the marketing roll-out, and this has now been expanded to include all the TFCAs within the SADC region.
Boundless Southern Africa supports initiatives of the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa to deliver against their mission of developing effective and impactful tourism initiatives in the SADC region.
Boundless Southern Africa provides the basis for unifying and consolidating marketing and investments promotion efforts of the TFCAs. Under this brand, a pipeline of 51 bankable investment opportunities was developed.
In additional to raising global awareness of these TFCAs as exciting cross-border destinations, Boundless Southern Africa is promoting public and private investment in projects located in TFCAs. Investment in tourism related accommodation facilities and development of supporting infrastructure will enhance the tourism attractiveness of these destinations.
Boundless Southern Africa brings together conservation and tourism communities across international borders and encourages collaborative effort in sustainable tourism development.
A key tourism marketing strategy of Boundless Southern Africa is to facilitate the development and hosting of an increasing number of cross-border tourism events in TFCAs throughout the region. These events are significant in the on-going tourism development of the TFCAS due to the following factors:
A key feature of these cross-border events is to facilitate the movement of participants within the TFCA at undesignated border crossings, thereby giving the visitor a true Boundless experience. The Nedbank Tour de Tuli held in August every year and the Desert Knights Tours held in April and September every year in the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park are both multi-day mountain bike tours have both been running for a number of years. The Mapungubwe Transfrontier Wildrun TM and Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun TM are part of a growing portfolio of cross-border events that also now appear on the annual events calendar of TFCAs in the SADC region.
A number of other trails and products are being developed in a number of other TFCAs.