Tourism honours students #LiveTheirWild

Posted on May 19, 2020

South African National Parks (SANParks) is gatekeeper to some of South Africa’s most pristine natural resources, and has to fulfil its conservation mandate while also offering appropriate visitor experiences. SANParks enjoy patronage from an established and loyal local market as well as international visitors. However, changing demographics require fresh approaches to sustain future business, especially among the younger generation and non-traditional markets. These new markets have unique expectations and view nature-based tourism experiences through a different lens.
The Tourism Management honours students recently took part in a project with the aim of exploring the SANParks visitor journey through the eyes of #millennial travellers. The students had to undertake desktop research in preparation for their week-long trip to two national parks: Kruger (Mpumalanga/Limpopo) and Golden Gate Highlands (Free State). Each student had to keep a travel journal of their personal expectations and experiences along the travel journey, using photographic images and journal entries.
What better way to evaluate experiences than to test it out yourself? The millennials participated in morning and evening game drives, guided bush walks, a cave hike and various short hiking trails. They stayed in tented camps, chalets, rondavels and hotel rooms. They also tasted traditional delicacies, listened to stories at a Basotho cultural village, and sampled some craft gin at a local brewery in the touristic town of Clarens. Magic moments included almost bumping into an elephant on a guided walk (luckily the ranger had a rifle), star gazing, socialising around a bush braai, sludging through mud and climbing a chain ladder to view the breathtaking Cathedral Caves, basking in the golden glow of the Maluti Mountains, and meeting up with other international travellers.
In the end the students provided the clients with a detailed account of the most memorable aspects, lessons learnt, pleasant surprises, and future plans to visit parks, as well as a number of practical ideas to market the parks to attract the sought-after millennial traveller.
Meeting with the senior marketing manager, Mr Phenyo Marumo     Stepping into the Kruger Park experience


- Author Tourism Management Division
Published by Liesl Oosthuizen

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