While the differences between Kruger’s north and south are rather obvious, there are more subtle distinctions between the tourists to those regions. By Romi Boom

The northern region of Kruger National Park attracts more visitors from the Western Cape, who are financially responsible for more people during their trip and, consequently, have a higher average spending than tourists who visit the southern region. This is just one of the interesting findings of a recent study by Martinette Kruger and Melville Saayman of North-West University’s Potchefstroom campus.

What are the differences between visitors to Kruger's northern and southern. Picture by Eric Miller-Oct2014

What are the differences between visitors to Kruger’s northern and southern regions. Picture by Eric Miller

Kruger has long been a favourite of local and international tourists, but until now it has not been marketed as two separate or distinct destinations.

It has been revealed that while those travelling to the north were keen to see lion and leopard while on holiday, the southern region attracted predominantly tourists who were motivated by the need to escape.

KrugerNationalPark-EricMiller-Oct2014

There are notable similarities between northern and southern region tourists, especially in terms of home language, average age, marital status, level of education, mode of transport and length of stay. The main differences are in terms of province of origin, average spending and financial responsibility. This study also confirmed that the larger the group you travel in, the shorter the stay.

The conclusion was that tourists travelling to the northern region have a higher total average spending. To encourage them to stay longer, marketing campaigns should focus on the Big Five, especially lion and leopard.

Skukuza camp

In the south, at camps such as Skukuza (pictured above), visitors view relaxation and escape as their primary reason for travelling to the region.

To increase length of stay in the southern region, marketing campaigns should focus on people’s desire to escape from the routine of their daily lives and emphasise that the park is the ideal relaxing and breakaway holiday destination.

The study recommends that the park be marketed from a regional perspective (i.e. making a distinction between two different parts of the same national park) rather than a whole.

It goes without saying that with the loyalty benefits of a Wild Card (no daily conservation fees), tourists can stay longer irrespective of which of the two regions they visit.