Kruger visitor numbers rise, as loyalists fear effects of new hotel

2016-04-26 13:13 - Louzel Lombard
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Cape Town - The number of tourists visiting the Kruger National Park in the coming years will no-doubt increase, especially considering a new proposed Radisson Blu Safari Resort ‘hotel’ which will be constructed on the periphery of the park at the Malelane Gate Precinct. 

Visitor numbers in the park have been on a steady rise over the past couple of years, and the latest figures again show that Kruger National Park's influx grew with 6.5%. 

During the 2015/2016 financial year, 1 767 218 guests entered the Kruger gates, a total of 107 425 more than the previous financial year, Gabrielle Venter for SANParks told Traveller24. 

A total of 1 659 793 visitors were recorded in the park during the 2014/2015 financial, when compared to 1 556 916 the previous financial year. 

Despite a "comprehensive independent environmental scrutiny" conducted on the impact of the Radisson Blu Safari Resort, many Kruger loyalists remain skeptical of the hotel's promised "positive contribution" to the Kruger atmosphere.

They say the park is already crowded and fear "cramming" more people into the iconic Kruger, will take away from the experience. 

Members on the official SANParks Kruger National Park Facebook group have labelled the new hotel development as 'disgusting'. 

Dina Prinsloo says, "If you want a glamorous holiday, go to Sun City. The bush holiday is for the nature and animal lovers, and we would like to see it stay that way..." 

Others are more optimistic about the new accommodation, saying the standard of current Kruger accommodation is not favourable. 

Stefan Steyn says, "I don't see why this is a problem. A lot of the accommodation in the park is very, very old. Without the tourists, there is no park. I welcome this addition." 

Angelika Edwards agrees, saying "There clearly is a demand. If it's an eco-friendly lodge with a little comfort, it sounds good to me." 

SANParks says the new development's impact will definitely be far less than the "sprawling towns of Skukuza and Satara... In fact, it should be noted that the total development footprint in the Kruger National Park is still less than 4%, making it a national park with the lowest development footprint in the world.”

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