I too have noticed all the bad press lately, and have wanted to post them for a while. Im no PC boff, so dont know how to link to articles, so I did a search on The Herald/Weekend Post website and found the following articles, which I have copied:
First one I noticed:
"Disgusted at state of Addo Park facilities
I VISITED Addo Elephant National Park on Monday, November 2, and am disgusted and embarrassed the management can run a national park in such a way. I am visiting South Africa from Scotland for the fourth holiday and planned on spending the day in the park.
I have previously been to Pilanesberg and Kruger parks, and have thoroughly enjoyed the amazing experience. Addo was a completely different story and I think the management team must be reviewed.
We arrived with our picnic at the new picnic spot, only to find that the gate was closed. This was at lunchtime.
I had been recommended to visit the beautiful picnic spots for some lovely photographs to take back to Scotland. Surely if there was any problem, there would have been advice given at the main gate on entry or at the very least a sign to explain why it was closed.
We also planned on using the toilet facilities, but were unable to do so. We then drove to another lookout at a waterhole called Spekboom and have never been so appalled at the conditions we found.
The toilets were absolutely filthy and I was sickened to my stomach. The seats were covered in excrement, and there was no toilet paper, soap or hand towels.
The sinks were also filthy and did not look like they have been cleaned in a long time. I am shocked the management does not control the cleaning staff at the facilities.
If the park is charging people to enter at a certain time, they must make sure everything is clean and suitable for fee paying guests. So after not being able to use the toilets at either of the picnic spots, we then had to urinate in the bush which is not safe, as we are not supposed to leave our vehicles unless in a designated area and it is very degrading!
Unfortunately this was an emergency and we had no choice.
We then had to eat our picnic in our car which did not make for a memorable experience. The one good point was that we saw a lot of animals, but I will never recommend the Addo Park to any of my friends.
I did not see the point of complaining at the reception as I would not know if the complaint was dealt with.
The Soccer World Cup will be in your country next year and if you treat tourists like this they will certainly never come back. – Jennifer ONiell, Dundee, Scotland"
Reply from Addo (Megan in fact), with another letter attached from a reader who enjoyed the park:
"Apology for dirty Addo Elephant Park toilets after visitor’s bad experience
IN response to “Disgusted at state of Addo Park facilities” (The Herald, November 6), Addo Elephant National Park management would like to assure Jennifer O’Neill, and all our visitors, that the state of the Spekboom Hide toilets as O’Neill encountered them is totally unacceptable and certainly not the normal standard of the facilities in the park.
We would like to apologise for the inconvenience this caused to O’Neill and family during their visit.
The problem with the cleaning action on that day has been taken up with the staff concerned so it does not occur again.
The picnic site in the park’s main game area has an automatic entrance gate which is triggered by a sensor plate. It seems the O’Neill family did not drive close enough to the gate to trigger this opening mechanism.
Since we have had a few reports of visitors struggling to trigger the gate-opening mechanism due to not driving over the sensor plate, we are changing the system so the gate can be opened by a visitor-operated button.
We urge all visitors to report problems to the park reception or staff as soon as they occur so these can be rectified immediately.
We hope a once-off problem does not deter visitors from experiencing the wonderful diversity and unique experience Addo Elephant National Park has to offer. – Megan Taplin, regional communications manager, SANParks
I FEEL very sorry for those who have experienced a bad side to Addo Elephant National Park.
My father and I have been visiting Addo Elephant National Park regularly for the past four years to view its magnificent animals and for photography purposes. We know the park like the back of our hands and are never disappointed!
In response to the picnic site’s gate being closed, one has to drive on to the cement block in front of the gate to have it automatically open which is a safety feature, just like the ones we use in the cities in front of townhouse complexes.
The toilet at the Spekboom hide was possibly not in good working order. However toilets at the restaurant and picnic area are not in this state and we have always found them spotless!
I trust the general public and tourists will not be put off by one person’s bad experience of Addo Elephant National Park. I encourage the public and tourists to visit the Addo Elephant National Park to experience our beautiful heritage and landscapes.
Thumbs up to South African National Parks management and staff for delivering great service to all visitors and keeping the park in such great condition! – Michelle de Lange, Port Elizabeth"
An article that appeared earlier this week:
"Rundown park no pleasure
IT IS of great concern that so many complaints have been seen in the papers recently about the state of the Addo Park and the environment around the park.
Tourism is such a big drawcard to the park and the surrounds, and yet complaints are being made daily, and it seems nothing has been done or is being done to sort out some of the most unacceptable problems.
The park is in decay, the gardens are not cleaned or taken care of, the walkways are unkempt at the main area, there is debris everywhere and the area is really looking rundown.
Not to talk about the 10 plus dead birds lying at the huge windows of the new building in the main area. They obviously fly into these high windows and get killed. Please put some blinds or cover inside, so that the birds cannot see the reflection of the forest in the windows and subsequently fly into the reflections with terrible results. Nine mouse birds and a beautiful turtle dove were counted, and this on only one day.
The staff at the gates are not friendly or helpful, although the reception staff usually are. The toilets in the park at the Spekboom lookout are in a terrible state and can at times not be used by guests or tourists as they are smeared with faeces, not cleaned and smelly. Obviously this is not getting looked at daily.
The new picnic spot has been closed at times, even as early as noon. Should the little delicatessen (?) at this picnic spot not be open for business? A big, beautiful building with no use whatsoever? The picnic spot is a welcome treat but surely could be more user-friendly.
Some of the directional markers (blocks) are not marked, especially when you come from the southern part of the park (Camp Matyholweni) area. Once you have passed the Spekboom area you would not know about the lookout point, as it is not marked on the block – and by then you have driven past and would not know to turn back.
The restaurant is an absolute put-off. Visitors are unhappy about the food, the pricing, the ambiance and the service.
We feel that management should take a hard look at their service to visitors as they are complaining to B&B owners and to other guests, and lots of negative vibes are going back with them.
We have had people informing us that they would not return to The Addo Elephant National Park because it had not lived up to the high standard they were used to, for instance in the Kruger National Park and others.
The curios in the shop are mainly stuff which is not made locally and therefore our own products, made by our own people, are not sold. People do not want to buy stuff from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, China, Japan or the like, so why not rather sell arts and craft made by South Africans and only sell SA products? This will surely mean that the park is supporting SA.
Lots of money is being spent on animals and infrastructure, but it seems that no money is being put back into the product itself for uplifting the quality.
It is time to start looking at this seriously. What will happen next year? Are we going to have a lot of dissatisfied, high-paying visitors with unhappy feelings about their visit to the park and then, of course, to PE and SA as a whole? This will ripple out to all product holders in the tourism industry and surely won't be good for any of them.
Please, Addo Elephant National Park's management and staff, have a meeting, get things sorted and make us proud again of this wonderful product. Make it something we can shout out about all the time and advertise with positive and happy feelings. Not many people, locals or visitors, are proud of the park at the moment.
Hope this is read by, and finds its way to, the right people at SANparks."
Im not going to comment, as I have not experienced any problems myself, just thought Id help by finding the articles that were mentioned.
"Wealth is not measured by how much you own, but by how much you give to others!"