New tourism opportunities in iSimangaliso

4 Oct 2016

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority is advertising the opportunity for operators to tender for a number of additional exciting business licenses to complement the suite already available, namely: lake boat cruises, game drive vehicles, fishing charters, scuba diving and spear fishing.

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park in the north-eastern corner of South Africa is the country’s most biodiverse and unique area, attributes that contributed to its inscription as South Africa’s first World Heritage Site in 1999. This ancient land, with its eight interlinking eco-systems, almost defies description. A few of its numerous attractions are:

  • Some of the world’s highest vegetated dunes dating back over 25 000 years
  • Around 220 kilometres of coastline
  • Africa’s largest estuarine system (Lake St Lucia) and also the longest trans-frontier marine protected area
  • The southernmost nesting site for sea turtles
  • More species of birds (526) than Kruger National Park
  • All of the country’s mangrove species
  • The only significant major swamp forests left in South Africa
  • More than 2000 species of flowering plants
  • Over 1200 species of fish
  • 700-year-old fish traps at Kosi Bay
  • 100 species of coral
  • Ancient marine fossil beds
  • The highest number of frog species in southern Africa (35, of which 2 are endemic)
  • One of the world’s top ten scuba diving sites at Sodwana Bay
  • The world’s oldest fish, the coelacanth, in deep submarine canyons off Sodwana Bay

Never mind the Big Five that occur here (lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo and black and white rhino), iSimangaliso also hosts whales, sharks, wild dogs, cheetah, the highest concentration of hippos in South Africa and around 2000 crocodiles.

If that isn’t enough reason to visit, there are the people of iSimangaliso – a multicultural society of five major language groups: Zulu, Swazi, Shangaan, Tonga and a relict group of Gonda speakers. The rich cultural heritage of this region is increasingly being recognised as one of its primary attractions for visitors wishing to fully experience the essence of South Africa.

Blessed with an endless summer, warm Indian Ocean waters and an almost year-round tourist season – with iSimangaliso firmly on the map of international tour operators and contributing around 8% of the country’s annual GDP – there couldn’t be a better place to open a business in tourism activities.

Licensing of Tourism Activities

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority invites operators to submit bids for licenses in respect of the following tourism activities:

Park Section St Lucia Estuary Eastern Shores uMkhuze Sodwana Kosi Bay
Boat Cruises (small)  X  X
Canoeing/Kayaking  X  X  X
Fishing Charters  X  X
Game Drives (open vehicle)  X  X
Scuba Diving  X
Spearfishing  X  X

Certain of these licenses are reserved for bids that have a specified minimum local-community equity and active local-community management.

Application documents can be obtained from

The closing date for bids is 7 November 2016.