GOOD NEWS: Frontier Regional National Parks all gained popularity this past festive season.
The five South African National Parks in the Frontier Region experienced a boost in visitor numbers over the past festive season. The Addo Elephant, Camdeboo, Garden Route, Karoo and Mountain Zebra National Parks all seemed to be gain in popularity compared to the same period over the last two years.
Cumulatively, they recorded a year-on-year increase in visitors of 4.9% from mid-December to the end of the first week in January. Numbers of visitors increased from 126 265 two years ago to 132 728 this past season. Accommodation occupancy also increased slightly, from 88% to 91%.
The biggest increase was observed at Karoo National Park just outside Beaufort West, which experienced a 47.4% jump in gate arrivals – from 5 246 to 7 734. Addo Elephant National Park (AENP) welcomed 35 563 visitors recently, compared to 30 011 two years ago – an increase of 18.4%.
AENP had the highest occupancy rate – up by 11% compared to the same period last year. Cradock’s Mountain Zebra National Park also had good gains – increasing their occupancy from 85% to almost 90%.
Regional General Manager, Dries Engelbrecht, said, “We are pleased with the overall tourism statistics we’ve achieved this past season, without any serious incidents. If it wasn’t for our staff members who were on duty, forgoing time with friends and family over this period, we would not have been able to achieve these milestones. Their hard work and dedication, under extremely busy and trying conditions, does not go unnoticed. We are happy that we are still a destination of choice for so many people and we hope that they made wonderful memories while in the parks.”
“The growth we’ve seen at Karoo National Park, in particular, is astounding. We think the main reason for this spike in numbers is that we had many more day visitors over the extremely hot days in December, who came into the Park to enjoy the Bulkraal picnic site with its refreshing swimming pool. On busy days such as those, we had to cap the numbers at 100 people at a time so that the picnic site did not get too busy, and over the past festive season, we had to implement this more often than in previous years.
It would also appear as if the fire which gutted the restaurant and shop at the Storms River Rest Camp did not significantly impact the tourism figures. We were fortunate to have erected temporary structures for both in time for the season,” Engelbrecht concluded.