More local families visit Cango Caves
Johannesburg - The Cango Caves near Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape experienced an increase in local tourists but a drop in foreign visitors during the December holidays.
"There is a definite shift in the market underway," said Cango Caves manager Hein Gerstner.
"Black family groups from Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo are travelling to see the caves as part of their annual holiday. This is a trend we have not seen before.
"Children and teenagers are very much part of the group and their parents spent a lot of money in our curio shop and restaurant."
The caves traditionally attract a local market of white and coloured families, mainly from Johannesburg and Cape Town, he said.
The number of local tourists visiting the caves in December 2011 was 838 more than the same time last year.
The big drop for the caves came in the number of foreign visitors, which dove by 3 887 in December, although January showed an improvement.
The number of German visitors dropped by 20% but the Dutch market climbed by 5%. The biggest leap in foreign visitors was from India with a 50% increase.
Gerstner said the decline in the daily number of visitors over the festive season was bad for the bottom line but good for the health of the caves.
"We have to keep the humidity, temperature and carbon dioxide levels well controlled to ensure the caves are able to recover after people have moved through them," he said.
"This year, with lower numbers in December, the caves are far healthier than they usually are after a holiday season."