Industry Changes to Child Policy
At the end of February this year, I received an interesting email from a Lodge in South Africa. In the email was information to Update Product Managers on the "...following information for Hamilton Parks Country Lodge, Hazyview, Mpumalanga." The email stated:
CHILD POLICY UPDATE
Hamilton Parks no longer accommodate children under the age of 12 as of 1st January 2019. Child Policies on all online booking sites have been updated.
The attached clarification document went on to say:
Hamilton Parks Country Lodge
Dearest Partner in Tourism with Hamilton Parks Lodge,
As from the 1st January 2019, we have taken the age limit and changed the age to 12 years of age, we have done extensive research and have decided to go this route, of course we will honour the bookings made and will endeavour to assist all agents and guests with the requests, all online platforms have been changed to reflect this.
We Have seen over the past 4 years the trend of children booked with parents, these are small amounts over the years, we are a lodge of many years and are not really a place for children, we have wonderful gardens they can run around in and a pool (supervised by parents at ALL times) and a pool table (Which is for older children)
Please let me know your thoughts, should you need some form of conversation regarding this issue please contact me, I would really like to chat with you.
Sincerely yours in Tourism
I was pleased to receive this email and immediately let Lyn know.
Why I was so pleased to see this change in policy
I want to be very clear, I do believe there is a time and place for young children on Safari and Traveling in Africa. Accompanied by conscientious, caring parents, younger children can offer a wonderful, fresh perspective to seeing animals in the wild. Unfortunately, in my experiences on Safari, these parents are the rarity.
On two occasions, in South Africa and in Kenya, I have experienced children disrupting Wildlife Experiences. I am not overstating the situation where in one of these instances the neglectful parents could have led to the deaths of their children. In my opinion, having seen this first hand, it is a situation no Safari Provider or Lodge Owner should ever be placed in.
Why These Changes in Policy?
I reached out to Lyn Mulder and asked her some questions about their decision to change the Child Policy. Below is our communication on the Change in Child Policy.
Amy: Thank you Lyn for answering my questions about your changes to Hamilton Parks Lodge’s Child Policy. I appreciate your taking the time to help educate us on what I am sure was a decision you did not make lightly.
Could you tell us about how you went about making the decision to change your Child Policy?
As I have shared with you, I have personally had two experiences, one of which could have been fatal to the children, where young, neglected children have been placed in situations which were inappropriate. Is there some advice you would give to parents considering taking young children on Safari?
This was not a decision taken lightly but we have already seen the benefits to a different group of visitors, to our lodge, we have maturer, travelers that seek the Bushveld tranquility
Amy , but to give 1 example, we have had 2 serious situations that could have gone terribly wrong if it was not for our staff members being there, twice we have had parents sitting around the pool and not taking notice of their children in the pool we have had to dive in twice to safe young children (aged 4 and 8 years old) we have also have had to safe a adult who could not swim J, this is purely a parent with no responsive attitude to children safety and etiquette (unacceptable to us as our swimming pool is not child proof and we always advise (and have sign boards) that under aged children are to be strictly looked after with parents in full attendance (not reading or playing on cell phones) the responsibility of a child is taken very seriously by Hamilton Parks and therefore we decided that it was not conducive to the lodge anymore, When it comes to safaris, we tell all parents with smaller children to do self drives’ in the park, as children fidget, shout and are generally full of energy and this distracts other guests (that also pay top dollar for the activity) and can potentially be dangerous with wild animals around open vehicles or even bush walks. Private game lodges mostly have the same policies in place (age limits etc) for the above same issues. But again this all depends on the children’s behavior and the parent’s accountability for their behavior :-) Breakages are also a small part of the child policy change :-)
Do you think this is a trend, toward setting age limits, that is going to take hold in the Tourism Industry in Africa?
1. Yes, I do think that there will be a trend, it will be a slow one, but I think parents will start looking more at resorts as a package tour when it comes to children as we know most European countries (which is SA [South African] most market) come to South Africa to visit with anything from 2 to 6 children (so cost effective is essential)
2. It is also a tough sell when you book children into rooms with parents, rates wise s all agents/parents expect children to wither be FREE of charge of to pay a very small sum
3. This was not a decision taken lightly but we have already seen the benefits to a different group of visitors, to our lodge, we have Maturer, travelers that seek the Bushveld tranquility without the
Flyga Twiga™ LLC Child Policy
Flyga Twiga™ LLC complies with all Industry Provider’s Policies as well as the Laws, Rules, and Regulations set in place by the African Nations and their Tourism and Wildlife Authorities in which our Clients will travel or transit. As such when we are working with Clients with Children under the age of 18, we require copies of Passports and Vaccination Documentation.
Traveling in Africa, and seeing the majestic animals in the wild, is transformational. Flyga Twiga™ is founded on the ideal of helping others share these life changing experiences – safely. We hope this discussion helps when planning your unique, bespoke Safari. And, you will have a
Happy Day! Safe Safari!