Charbel, interesting question you pose.
40 odd years ago, Kruger was a place that very few people visited. I remember as a child going on holiday to camp in kruger. Many people asked, where is that?? What on earth would you want to go to kruger for??
There is nothing there!!
Back in those days, South Africa had sanctions imposed upon us. The rand dollar exchange rate was almost one to one. Petrol in SA was the cheapest in the world. Caravanning in SA had not taken off yet, although this began to boom into the 80's.
Back then, the hotel era was booming. Durban beachfront hotels were doing most of the annual holiday trade. It was all the rage to go on holiday and stay in fancy hotels. Mind you, it was affordable, so people did it. People flocked to the suncities, durban beach front.
Back then, Kruger had very little, just a few shops, a few thatched rondavels, dirt roads. There was no fancy stuff going on. No fancy hotels. And not many visitors. It was a glorious time!!
Soon, people realised that the hotel holidays were becoming overcrowded. They began to look for more secluded destinations, fewer people, less hussle and bustle.
So, many adopted the next best thing. A caravan. A luxury accomodation on wheels. This new concept would allow them to drag their accomodation anywhete they wanted. Petrol was very cheap. Big engined cars were all the rage. Made sense then to hook up a van and drive off into the wilderness. Kruger started to become a more common destination for many. And caravanning opened up new destinations for many.
At this stage, SA was still isolated from the rest of the world. International tourism was not high on our agenda. Most local holiday destinations were geared up for local tourism. And most SA holiday makers wanted luxury. Except those privelidged few who visited Kruger. We wanted non of this stuff. To us, Kruger was just perfect. Wild, rustic, and away from maddening crowds. And, for many, an ideal destination to drag your caravan to.
Then, something else changed. Politically. Sanctions imposed against SA were lifted. For the first time in many years, SA was again part of the international community.
International visitors slowly began to recognise South Africa as a possible holiday destination, this strange, much heard about but never visited country on the tip of Africa. With its unique diverse cultures, people, and extensive beauty. And it was relatively cheap, the rand was not worth much against other currencies.
Back here, the price of petrol began to rocket upwards. So too did the price of hotels. Caravaning no longer became a viable solution. It was expensive to tow a van. Hotels were becoming more unaffordable. So people turned to camping. They could still have the feeling of caravanning, but just without the added expense of dragging a van behind. So, the locals turned to camping. The international guests and visitors started arriving. And both were looking for the same fix...a unique destination. Kruger.
Away from the madening crowds, no hotels, a unique destination indeed.
The fact is, the world is changing. Some may say for the better. Some may say we are on a downward spiral for the worse. Controlled by the human need (greed) to make money. One thing is certain though. It is changing. And sadly, where there is change, in many instances, its the pressure to change with the world that clouds our vision.
Is Kruger still the same place I knew it as a child? No.
Is there a future for Kruger? Yes, definately.
But only if we are VERY VERY careful not to lose its early founders vision. And what it stands for. Because once that happens, Kruger will be no more.