As Pokemon users search for virtual creatures in an augmented reality, South African tourism hotspots are seeing a real increase in visitor numbers.
Crocworld Conservation Centre on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast has seen an influx of visitors recently searching for a new kind of resident creature – the Pokeémon.
Centre manager Martin Rodrigues said Crocworld had decided to encourage more visitors to the park after having discovered that Crocworld hosts five Poke stops and one Pokeé gym.
“We were extremely surprised to notice that we were getting a lot of people coming to Crocworld because of Pokeémon Go,” he said.
“We had people visiting from Durban, Merebank, Margate, Pietermaritzburg and even a father and son stopped in on their way to Johannesburg.
“These are people who wouldn’t necessarily have visited the centre without the Pokeémon attraction,” Rodrigues said.
Henry, the resident Nile Crocodile, is one of the Poké stops, which means gamers get to view the renowned reptile while collecting the sought-after Pokémon supplies, Rodrigues added.
Durban’s Botanical Gardens has also seen a boost in visitors since thousands of South Africans downloaded the unofficial version of the app last month.
The garden’s Kerry Phillips said: “There is definitely an increase in visitors.
“The only negative is that they are so busy on their phones that they are not taking in their environment.” said
Adam Oxford, of tech website htxt.Africa, said there was a “huge interest” in the game from businesses.
However, many could not use Pokemon Go to their full advantage as the game was still unofficial in South Africa.
“To increase business, they could request to be a Poke stop but that cannot happen as the game is not here as yet,” he said.
Although Pokeémon Go has only been released in Australia, New Zealand and United States, the animated creatures can be found in South Africa as it the app uses Google Mapsto work.
Oxford said big businesses were wary of the Pokeémon boost while others were already cashing in.
“Recently an unofficial event took place at Montecasino
“Montecasino management was reluctant but they couldn’t stop it.
Bean saw the business potential and offered a promotion for all Pokeémon Go players. There were 600 people there for the event, so they would have cashed in,” Oxford said.