UPDATE: Kruger renovations stopped amid visitor frustration, stays discounted

Cape Town - It's a case of you cannot please everybody all the time, as SANParks has put renovations on hold to honour bookings made until April 2017.

On Friday 3 February,  the Kruger National Park sent out a notice to all Lower Sabie tented camp guests, announcing the sudden closure of the camp from 13 February this year, until the end of the 2017 financial year.  However, visitors who had already planned and booked their stay were not impressed, taking to social media to express their concern and frustration.

SEE: Sudden closure of Kruger's Lower Sabie tented camp leaves visitors fuming

"This is totally unacceptable," one group member and international visitor Caroline Pobereskin said at the time.

'Error in its hasty decision'

"Whilst it might be a big inconvenience for South Africans, what about international tourists who have paid maybe thousands of Pounds for non-refundable flights, car hire, etc.? What are they supposed to do if there's no alternative accommodation available?" questioned Pobereskin.

On Saturday SANPark realised the error in its hasty decision to try and improve conditions in the park, saying renovations have now been put on hold until April 2017.

In the statement Kruger Management apologised saying they have "considered all the challenges, suggestions and concerns which were raised by affected visitors" and have since decided to suspend the renovation process until end of April 2017 in order to honour bookings already made until that period.

Phased approach being put in place

Spokesperson for the park Lesley Nyawo says, "Affected tents at Lower Sabie Rest Camp will be renovated in a phased approach as from May 2017 in order to bring them back to the required standard.

"Due to the current poor condition of most of the tents, such bookings for the affected tents will be discounted at a rate of 20% with immediate effect.

Guests whose bookings have been changed following the sudden closure announcement now have the option to revert their bookings back to Lower Sabie tents, and would also qualify for the discount as mentioned. 

Nyawi confirmed six upgraded tents have been completed and bookings allocated to these would not be discounted and be subject to full rate.

'Poorly thought through process'

Fully paid guest would receive the discounted amount back as credit to their SANParks accounts for use on future bookings. Guests who will be affected by the upgrades once they start now in May 2017 will be contacted directly by SANParks to discuss alternative arrangements, Nyawi says.   

Affected guests are being advised to contact one of the following:

- SANParks Customer Care Centre at 012 426 5017

- Hospitality Services Manager: Lower Sabie, Ramontsho Ramfolo at +27 13 735 6056

- Email Ramontsho.ramfolo@sanparks.org 

- Lower Sabie Duty Phone at 082 888 6562 

Visitors have welcomed the news, despite the need to have to stay in substandard camping facilities.

Gillian McKeith says, "Thank goodness!! Trying to do it so soon was so impractical. I have 2 nights booked in March and could not find other accommodation anywhere on those 2 nights!"

Dee Roelofsz says, "So great to see SANParks reacts super fast to guest concerns!"

While Eleanor James says, "So glad good sense prevailed. The discount is a good idea. I am sure some overseas visitors whose bookings were thrown into total disarray will be very relieved."

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