The world-renowned Kruger National Park, which is larger than the state of Israel, offers a wildlife experience that is ranked one of the best on the African continent. The Kruger has always welcomed visitors from both South Africa and abroad. The pandemic which led to a slowdown in tourists for over a year has severely impacted the park’s revenues.
Limpopo’s MEC for Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, Thabo Mokone, told Pretoria News that the Kruger Park is due to get a new entry gate as well as an activity centre next year. Mokone said the two projects had been in the pipelines for some time but that plans were now reaching the implementation stage.
KRUGER’S NEW ENTRY GATE
The new entrance, which is named the Shangoni gate, will be situated between the towns Giyani and Malamulele. Mokone said that the project had been plagued by disagreements between the communities of Malamulele and Giyani, as to where the new gate would be located.
“The issue of the Shangoni gate is not a new matter. We have agreed that we are going to start engagement with the Collins Chabane local municipality and Giyani local municipality to resolve this matter as soon as possible so that we can complete this project by the end of next year, “ Mokone said.
CATERING TO LOCAL VISITORS
While the Kruger National Park already has several entry gates, most of these do not have on-site recreational facilities or activity hubs for visitors, which results in visitors having to travel to the rest camps inside the park in order to access facilities such as restaurants, shops and organized game drives.
The new gate and activity hub are aimed at local visitors who will be able to access activities and facilities right at the entrance to the park.
“I’m particularly keen to kickstart these projects because they will create employment in the provincial economy. We can’t only rely on international tourists to come to visit us. We must also rely on ourselves to visit our own country,” Mokone said.
TRANSFORMING THE LOCAL ECONOMY
This new development will stimulate job creation by offering employment to the local communities. Mokone said the new activity hub would bolster the economy in Phalaborwa.
“We have taken a decision as (provincial) government to claim the Kruger Park. Phalaborwa town has been anchored by the mining industry so we want the tourism sector to be a secondary encore to develop the town into an epic tourism destination,” he said.