(Photo: Ethan Van Diemen)
South Africa's flagship national park, Kruger is undergoing some serious upgrades over the next three years - with accommodation in the park, conferencing venues and day visitors' facilities being the core focus in improving SA's world-renowned wildlife heritage spot.
SANParks estimates about 1.5m visitors experienced the park in 2018, a 7.7% increase from 1.4m visitors during the previous year.
READ: What visitors can look forward to with the R396m SANParks upgrades - over the next 3 years
Adding to the accommodation upgrade and expansion is BON Hotels group, who are set to launch three properties in the park, with a unique dry hotel in the mix.
Buckler’s Africa Lodge with its Halaal certification, catering to the Muslim traveller, is set to launch in October 2019.
This bring the full BON offering in Kruger to four diverse offering, as they have an existing presence in the 4-Star Shishangeni Privte lodge.
Buckler’s Africa Lodge as the first of their new offerings in Kruger will have 16 luxury self-catering units fitted with kitchenettes, bathrooms and air conditioning." Ranging from two- to four-sleeper options, this lodge sets itself apart with its Halal certification, enabling it to appeal to Muslim travellers from around the world.
READ: Halaal Tourism 101: Learning the ways of the Muslim traveller
Since it is classified as ‘dry’, alcohol will not be sold on the property, although guests are welcome to bring along their preferred beverages for the duration of their stay.
According to the annual Mastercard-Crescent Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI), SA has been ranked as one of the ten most Muslim-friendly travel hot spots for 2018 among non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) - aka among countries that are not predominantly Muslim countries. While Cape Town is the ideal city escape destination for Muslim travellers looking to visit SA as it hosts a wide range of halaal and halaal-friendly food options - with most international chains also being Halaal-certified - this would give muslim travellers a definitive beach and bush planning aspect to their holiday.
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A recent study has found that Halaal tourism is now one of the fastest growing sectors of the global travel industry and predicts visitor spending to reach a massive R2782.32 billion (or $220 billion USD) by 2020.
It is estimated that by 2020 approximately 26% of the world's population will be Muslim. This coupled with the continued growth of the Muslim middle class and younger population - with increased disposable income - means that Muslim travellers are becoming a significant segment within the global travel and tourism sector. With this in mind catering to Muslim travellers' makes Kruger even more appealing.
Dry hotel close to the Crocodile Bridge Gate
“We are delighted to begin with the creation of a circuit of different lodge offerings into the Kruger National Park. This increased hospitality offering will do so much for tourism, the local stakeholders and the accessibility of this location. Ranging from traditional family units to luxury self-catering accommodation, we are excited to see the benefits of this venture not only for BON Hotels, but for the people of the area working to make it a success,” says BON Hotel’s Group Commercial Director, Charl van Wyk.
Located close to the Crocodile Bridge Gate near the Kruger National Park, Buckler’s is conveniently placed along the banks of the Crocodile River, affording guests spectacular views of the Park.
“This dream has been one that we were highly anticipating to execute. We have cultivated our passion for the Kruger National Park area for years now and to be able to turn it into sustainable business and hospitality practices is something we are very proud of," says Nazir Akram, co-owner of Buckler's.
"We believe that these properties have the potential to provide a great return on investment. With Buckler’s Africa Lodge being certified Halal, we are able to expand our market offering to Muslim travellers from across the globe."
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