Understanding the reasons why tourists visit the Kruger National Park during a recession
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The 2008 and 2009 recession increased pressure on travellers to cut costs on luxury items, such as going on holiday, and this has led to a global tourism decline of 8%. This, however, was not the case in the Kruger National Park (KNP) in South Africa where a sustained 1.6% accommodation unit occupancy growth was experienced. In order to sustain this growth, it is of the utmost importance to determine why people still visited the Park during this period. Thus the aim of the study was to determine why people still visited the KNP amidst the 2008 and 2009 economic recession. A total of 355 completed questionnaires were obtained at the Park during 15 December 2009 – 20 December 2009 (high season) after which various analyses (including factor analysis) were conducted. Six motives were identified and ‘escape’, ‘wildlife experience’ and ‘family benefits’ were rated most important. Push factors were more dominant to the extent that visitors regard taking a holiday to the Park as a necessity. It furthermore seems that visitors adapt their spending behaviour at the Park to still be able to afford the visit. This was the first time that research was conducted at a national park during a recession period and this information is important for South African National Parks, seeing as it provides a better understanding of visitors’ behaviour as well as feeling towards the Park (especially during recession), and leads to improved niche marketing and a competitive advantage. This research also provides a better understanding of visitors’ behaviour during economic downturns.