Provincial parks in the Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal have seen a drop in overnight visitors.
“We have seen some day visitors, not as many as we’d hoped, but mostly we are missing out on the overnight guests,” said Communications Manager for Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife (EKZNW), Musa Mntambo.
Marketing and Communications Manager at CapeNature, Loren Pavitt, said the reserve accommodation remained open but CapeNature had reached only half the visitor numbers of previous years.
Both EKZNW and CapeNature have reported the popularity of hikes and trail walking. “People have opted to walk trails to compensate for closed beaches,” said Pavitt.
Mntambo told Tourism Update that hiking trails at Krantzkloof Nature Reserve near Durban had become particularly popular.
Still, the parks have faced challenges. Under the latest government restrictions, entrance to the parks is controlled. “Not all entrance points to nature reserves and wilderness areas are manned. It would be near impossible to do so, as access is limited and can often only be reached on foot covering thousands of hectares,” said Pavitt. She added that there had been some instances of unlawful entry and irresponsible behaviour in the CapeNature reserves.
At the EKZNW reserves, the low tourist numbers have been felt. “We are trying to come up with discounts at the moment to entice visitors,” said Mntambo. “We have also felt the lack of international tourists, as they are mostly the visitors who buy meals at our dining facilities. The locals bring their food and braai.”
He said uncertainty about South Africa’s school terms was affecting domestic travel planning and would present a further challenge for the reserves in the coming months.
“We need a collective approach to ensure the economic and social recovery of our province and country,” concluded Pavitt.