SANParks Clarifies Accommodation Availability Status

Following the South African National Parks (SANParks) announcement earlier in August that it intends to re-open its hospitality operations gradually to ensure optimum readiness to accommodate guests in compliance with new regulations and protocols.

The park has welcomed the lifting of the travel bans as well as accommodation occupancy limitations thus week.

In a statement regarding the public outcry over pre-booking and accommodation in the park. The park explained that the changes imply a “new normal” which is governed by strict health and safety protocols that need to be efficiently observed to keep employees and guests safe.

The park’s spokesperson Ike Phaahla said in addition to compliance obligations, several other factors have led to the phased reopening of hospitality facilities chiefly that of the continuing refurbishment of accommodation facilities in some parks. 

“The period of the lockdown provided an opportunity to undertake much-needed refurbishments and as with all of South Africa, reopening plans were based on a widely held assumption that tourism facilities would be allowed reopen toward mid-September; hence most refurbishment plans were geared for completion around this period”.

Speaking of the impact of maintenance work on reopening concerning facilities; the Parks CEO, Fundisile Mketeni also admitted to having some logistical challenges.

“We have some logistical challenges with regard to our readiness to resume full operations in some parks. In addition to planned maintenance work, it has emerged, that the bulk of units that were unoccupied during the lockdown were damaged mainly by primates, squirrels and bats, however, we are moving with speed to repair them”.

Mketeni further explained that the recall of staff and their induction on new protocols could only be undertaken over days – further adding to the delays. 

The CEO emphasized that the induction is in the interests of the health and safety of both guests and staff. 

“We had an option of staying closed for all business until we were 100% ready, however with the understanding that our loyal guests are yearning to spend time in nature, the compromise was to introduce a phased reopening of our guest facilities. In this manner, some people would have the privilege of visiting our parks while unfortunately several would be disappointed due to the above-stated reasons” concluded Mketeni.

What to know about SANParks on level 2 lockdown

  1. The Head Office Reservation Call Centre in Pretoria is now operating at full capacity.
  2. The online booking system has been stabilized and all technical disruptions are resolved.
  3. The accommodation in the majority of our parks is now fully operational with the exception of Kruger National Park which is the most impacted by continuing maintenance work, will open in a multi-phased approach between August and December 2020.

Most of the Kruger camps have reopened and are fully operational, however, Skukuza and Lower Sabie will be operating at minimum capacity until 1 October 2020 and 15 December respectively. Biyamiti, Maroela, and Orpen remain closed and their estimated reopening dates are as follows;

  • Biyamiti: 15 October 2020
  • Maroela: 01 November 2020
  • Orpen: 07 November 2020

The bulk of guests with affected bookings have been contacted and this will continue until the end of September 2020. These guests are being offered alternative accommodation in other camps within Kruger or assisted in postponing their bookings. 

“We are aware that trips were planned and paid for a long time ago and others are family traditions, however, due to the real challenges that we face, we urge for patience and tolerance from all guests,” Concluded Mketeni.