What’s happening with Kruger Park's dining facilities?

29 November 2017 - 13:25 By Savannah Freemantle
Kruger Park. (File photo.)
Kruger Park. (File photo.)
Image: iStock

The Kruger National Park is persevering with plans for a new restaurant operator at three main camps after setting up temporary dining facilities and cutting electricity to the ex-franchisee.

Tourism Update explains:

Since March‚ the Kruger National Park has been engaged in a legal process to terminate the Mugg & Bean and Debonairs Pizza branches that had been operating in Satara‚ Olifants and Letaba.

The franchise that runs the restaurants‚ Famous Brands‚ told The Lowvelder in March that the outlets would be de-branded because the managing franchisee did not uphold the standards of the brand.

Famous Brands confirmed that the ex-franchisee had indicated that the outlets would be run as independent operations.

It added: "Restaurant operations at Mugg & Bean Lower Sabie and Wimpy Pretoriuskop are unaffected as they are owned and managed by another franchisee."

Reynold Thakhuli‚ General Manager of Media‚ PR and Stakeholder Relations at SANParks‚ said the restaurants continued to operate until the end of September‚ at which point services were terminated.

“SANParks decided to discontinue electricity supply to the main restaurants in all three camps‚ as the national park did not receive payment for these services.

“SANParks then implemented a temporary solution to ensure that all visitors had access to a dining experience‚” Thakhuli said.

An industry source who expressed concern said that this solution involved the erection of temporary‚ tented facilities.

“Clients reported that there was a makeshift arrangement erected at Letaba under canvas. However‚ this facility did not appeal to them‚” the source said.

When asked about the standards of the temporary facilities‚ Thakhuli said they aimed to cater for both local and international travellers by offering South African dishes. “The options are limited at present‚ but will become more extensive when the operator moves into the main restaurant.”

He said a proposal for a temporary operator at the main restaurants in Satara‚ Olifants and Letaba had been submitted and was in the process of approval. “Obtaining relevant approval from all parties is a tedious process that involves a number of departments. As a result‚ a definite date for implementation is hard to provide.”

However‚ he said that once approved‚ the situation would stabilise. “The plan is to have an interim operator situated in the main restaurants in these camps for a six-month period [until end of May‚ 2018]. During this time we will be able to initiate a tender process to appoint a long-term operator.”

The industry source told Tourism Update that aside from the dining facilities‚ travellers had raised concerns over the condition of the various accommodation offered in the Kruger Park‚ during their stay.

When asked‚ SANParks said this was an isolated incident and that each rest camp had a development plan in place to ensure that upgrades took place as required. “The upgrading of the units are informed by their physical condition‚ functional assessment and tourism strategy. This plan is reviewed annually and that feeds into a five-year infrastructure development plan that details which units‚ or main buildings‚ in each rest camp will be upgraded during that period. The infrastructure development plan is implemented in accordance with the funding approved through the Infrastructure Development programme.” - Tourism Update