FOR the first time in the Addo Elephant National Park’s 87-year history, in excess of 300 000 visitors passed through the park’s gates during the previous financial year. A total of 305 510 guests were tallied between April 1, last year and March 31, this year. This represents an increase of 15% for the same period in 2016/17 with 265 585 guests to the park. Slightly over half of these were international tourists at 158 162 (52%), while 146 091 were South Africans (47%) and 1 257 were visitors from SADC countries. Dissected into day and overnight visitors, 82% or 250 232 were day visitors, while the remaining 18% or 55 278 were overnight guests.The majority of South African visitors to the park originated from the Eastern Cape at 101 374, which represents 69% of the total, followed by 21% from the Western Cape. Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom were the park’s top three overseas markets, which represented 55%, 10% and 5% of the international market respectively.Park manager Nick de Goede said, “We are elated by these statistics. Not only does it tell us that the park is a destination of choice for so many people but that confidence, both in the area and in the country, is also picking up. “Our staff work exceptionally hard all year round to ensure that all our visitors receive excellent customer service. They do so under extreme conditions at times, as catering to the needs of all these people is no mean feat.“By putting best practices in place on the conservation front, we are able to provide top quality game viewing and a myriad activities all centred on our core function of nature conservation. The amount of day visitors, who made up 82% of our visitors over the past 12 months, tells us that the majority of people passing through our gates do so to enjoy the park’s fauna and flora,” De Goede continued.There are a number of activities in which guests to Addo Elephant National Park, located just outside Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, participate.These include self-drive game viewing, guided game drives, bird viewing, walks and hikes, horse trails and a 4x4 trail. For others wanting to spend more time in the park by overnighting, an array of accommodation options varying from camping and caravanning to chalets, rondavels and tented camps to more luxurious four-star options is available.