Sustainable Tourism in Southern Africa: Local Communities and Natural Resources in Transition

Sustainable Tourism in Southern Africa: Local Communities and Natural Resources in Transition

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Tourism has become a major economic agent and an important social and cultural element in contemporary southern Africa. As such, tourism has a wide range of impacts on environment, economy, cultures, and the everyday life of people. These processes have highlighted the role of sustainability in tourism development.This book represents an accessible examination of the connections between tourism and sustainability in southern Africa. It introduces connections between tourism, sustainability and development with a range of case studies and examples from the region. While the book and the individual chapters are emphasising the key role of tourism in the transition processes of local communities and environments, the social, cultural, economic and political contexts of tourism and communities are also highlighted.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781845413651
Publisher: Channel View Publications
Publication date: 06/23/2009
Series: Aspects of Tourism
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
File size: 9 MB

About the Author

Jarkko Saarinen is Professor at University of Oulu in Finland and University of Johannesburg, South Africa. His research interests include tourism and development, sustainability and tourism-community relations.

Fritz Becker is a Professor of Geography at the national University of Namibia in Windhoek, Namibia.

Haretsebe Manwa is Associate Professor at North-West University, South Africa. Her research encompasses tourism and poverty alleviation, wildlife tourism, community-based tourism and cultural tourism.

Deon Wilson is an Associate Professor at the Department of Tourism Management, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Jarkko Saarinen is Professor at the University of Oulu, Finland and the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. His research interests include tourism and development, sustainability and tourism-community relations.

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Sustainable Tourism in Southern Africa

Local Communities and Natural Resources in Transition

By Jarkko Saarinen, Fritz Becker, Haretsebe Manwa, Deon Wilson

Multilingual Matters

Copyright © 2009 Jarkko Saarinen, Fritz Becker, Haretsebe Manwa, Deon Wilson and the authors of individual chapters
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-84541-365-1


Introduction: Call for Sustainability



Tourism has become a global industry with increasing impacts on environment, regional and local development. In many southern African countries, tourism provides new opportunities, jobs and economic benefits for local communities. Currently, many countries in the region perceive tourism promotion as a suitable and relatively inexpensive strategy that can be used to attract foreign direct investment (Binns & Nel, 2002). As a result of growing tourism activities, many places and rural areas in the region are tied to the global industry and related cultural, social, economic and political networks. Thus, tourism has become an important policy tool for community and regional development in southern Africa (Rogerson, 1997). Tourism also has a significant potential to influence and change the use of natural and cultural resources in the region. This potential has highlighted the role of sustainability in tourism development and has turned tourism into not only an economic but also a social and political agent that affects a wider natural and socio-cultural environment in various ways; for example, sustainable utilisation of natural resources and improved quality of life of the communities living adjacent to tourism resources.

The attractiveness and recent success of southern Africa in tourism development has been based on its diversity. The White Paper of Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa (Government of South Africa, 1996), for example, states that the attractiveness of the region is based on relatively accessible wildlife, beautiful scenery, unspoiled nature, diverse traditional and township cultures and pleasant climate (see also Ministry of Environment and Tourism, 2005; Rogerson & Visser, 2004). Similarly, other countries in the region base their strengths on the natural environment and, increasingly, on cultural settings (Saarinen, 2007; Van Veuren, 2001; World Travel and Tourism Council, 2007). However, many of these elements of attraction are sensitive to the changes caused by uncontrolled tourism development and management, which are subject to a multitude of other wider processes such as global climate change and political stability of the region (see Hall, Chapter 3, this volume). All these components and factors call for a deeper understanding of tourism, its sustainability and the need to develop sustainable tourism strategies, knowledge based on higher education and academic research efforts in the region.

At policy level, tourism is currently viewed as an essential sector for regional and national reconstruction and development in the tourism policy of the southern Africa Development Community (SADC). In this sense, the rationale of tourism development has evolved towards the idea of tourism as a tool for local and regional economic development (see Rogerson, 1997), and, recently, a relatively new kind of idea of tourism as an instrument of social and economic empowerment is also taking centre stage (Binns & Nel, 2002; Scheyvens, 2002). In this respect, there are currently many regional and local development programmes highlighting the significance of tourism in both regional development and black empowerment. The New Partnership for Africa's Development (see Goudie et al., 1999) underlines this aspect and stresses the potential role of tourism in social and economic development. The background of these new policy needs is the growing role of tourism in the region and concerns over the local-level benefits of the increasingly global industry; tourism is accepted as a vital export industry, but which must benefit the local residents of the places that tourists actually visit.

Tourism's role is also seen positively in global contexts such as the United Nation's Millennium Project and its goals and targets (see Telfer & Sharpley, 2007). Based on this change of orientation, tourism could, if not should, be more often used as a development tool for poverty reduction, ensuring environmental sustainability, developing a global partnership for development and empowerment of previously neglected communities and social groups, for example. Especially the issue of sustainable tourism acknowledging community-based tourism (CBT) and pro-poor tourism (PPT) has been given a central position in these development goals and discussions.

Changing Tourism and Impacts

The scale, increasing role and diversity of global tourism have resulted in growing environmental impacts. Also in southern Africa, tourism has resulted in numerous positive economic, environmental and social impacts. Although tourism has a tremendous capacity for generating development in destination regions, the growing impacts of tourism may also lead to a range of evident and potential problems as well as of environmental, social, cultural, economic and political issues in tourism destinations and systems, creating a need for alternative and more environment and host-friendly practices in tourism development, planning and policies (Hall, 2000). In general, these are labelled under the concept of sustainable tourism. Sustainable tourism, its practices and code of conducts are often seen as highly beneficial for local communities, their well-being, natural environment and local development (Saarinen, Chapters 5 and 15 in this book). In contrast to conventional mass tourism (CMT) activities, sustainable modes of tourism are regarded as more locally oriented, and culturally and socially responsible.

However, the past success of tourism has not been influenced much by ideas related to sustainability. Table 1.1 aims to demonstrate key elements of CMT and factors influencing the success of tourist destination development. In relation to a certain specific context, there may be some other crucial elements involved, which are not listed here and, for example, the issues of governance, legislation and policy are taken for granted in this generalised model. Generally, in tourism development, discussions on the accessibility of a destination have often been often highlighted (see Hall, 2005; Rogerson, Chapter 2 in this book). Accessibility is a very important factor that explains the colossal public investments in roads and, particularly, airport facilities in mass tourism regions, for example. However, accessibility alone does not make tourism happen. In order to have tourism and tourists, people need to be motivated to travel. Tourist motivation relates to certain general pull factors and specific attractions that a destination can provide. Safety and security have always played an important role in mass tourism, but nowadays it is an inevitable aspect among other elements of the attractiveness of a destination. In addition, to capitalise, that is, turn good accessibility and attractiveness into real tourism business and tourist flows, there need to be basic services for visitors to use.

The primary factors are followed by marketing, highly specialised knowledge in business skills and the nature of the basic physical infrastructure. These so-called secondary elements are partly integrated and dependent on the primary elements and vice versa. Although marketing, as such, is also an important element in CMT or any other destination development, it still represents a secondary factor; without accessibility, attractions and basic services there is nothing to be marketed. An entry point to the tourism business has traditionally been relatively low (at least compared with many other large industries) without sound knowledge of or education in the field (Hall, 2005). There has also been more emphasis on quantity and quality in CMT resort infrastructure and development. In addition to primary and secondary elements, there are a number of other factors, such as personnel skills, accessibility to research information and a level of integration into local economies and communities, potentially affecting tourism development. However, these have usually played a relatively minor role in CMT development.

Currently, there are several ongoing processes of change that are challenging the CMT development model and priorities (see Holden, 2007). On a general level, the internationalisation and rapid globalisation of the tourism industry has changed or is changing the markets (see Gössling & Hall, 2005). Although globalisation has spread the CMT developments to new areas with increasing impacts, it has also diversified the markets and brought new kinds of tourist segments and elements of demand to new destinations. The emergence of the more individual, international and potentially responsible tourist and the decrease in the importance of mass tourism have been highlighted in the literature since the mid-1990s (see Poon, 1993). However, there is no clear empirical evidence yet that the core of the industry, representing CMT, is factually declining globally. On the other hand, there is an increasing tourism demand referring to this so-called new tourism that is largely based on the debated assumption of the crisis in modern tourism, specifically the mass tourism industry.

According to Poon (1993), changes in technology, production and consumption modes, management strategies and socio-economic contexts will evidently lead to the end of conventional tourism and towards alternative forms of tourism. As said, this 'end of mass tourism' discussion can be critically questioned, but there is an evident background process of change based on wider shifts in consumption and production modes in Western countries. That change in the literature is described as moving from Fordist production towards post-Fordist production and the related new ways of consuming (Urry, 1990: 14, see Beck & Beck-Gernsheim, 2001; Williams & Shaw, 1998), the trend of which is also affecting the supply and demand patterns of the southern Africa tourism scene. It represents a transformation towards more individually oriented production, marketing and consumption with deeper preferences for small-scale and high-class products. These developments have resulted in a magnitude of new lodges, game parks and other elements referring to a commercialisation of nature and local cultures in the region (see Govender van Wyk & Wilson, Chapter 13 in this book). In this respect, these new tourists are considered fundamentally different from the 'old' conventional ones; they are expected to be more quality and environmentally conscious, flexible, independent, experienced and community-centred (see Duffy, 2002; Fennell, 1999). In a way, the shift is a classical matter of distinction between a tourist and a traveller; that is, travellers are often regarded as more knowledgeable, educated, responsible, adventurous and individual compared to tourists moving in crowds looking for a familiar, safe and touristic sun–sea–sand kind of environments.

In addition to globalisation with new demand and supply patterns and the emergence of the new tourist, the growing need for sustainability has challenged the CMT development model. Sustainable tourism, which will be discussed in detail later (Saarinen, Chapter 5 in this book), has also initiated several alternative modes of tourism, such as CBT and PPT, that also have their connections to the premises of the new tourism. These alternative forms of tourism are partly responses to the globalisation of the industry, its new scale and nature of its impacts. In this respect, all these larger changes highlight the new role of the environment and local people in tourism development with needs to integrate tourism to the local economy and regional development (see Moswete et al., Chapter 11 in this book). In addition, greater expertise to meet the needs of new demand patterns and the call for a research-based knowledge of the tourism impacts and their management are increasingly needed. Although these changes and factors may probably not replace the traditional primary elements of CMT, they challenge the marginal positions of the 'other elements' also in CMT development (see Table 1.1). Especially the need for sustainability has been the driving force in this process of change and the contextualisation of the industry with its social and physical environments.

Sustainability and Tourism

Sustainable development

The demand for more environmentally sensitive practices in tourism grew rapidly in the 1980s. During the 1990s, the issue of sustainability became an idea and platform that started to guide the economic and political structures of the whole tourism system and its development (Bramwell & Lane, 1993; Mowforth & Munt, 1998; Pigram, 1990). The term and idea of sustainability was transferred to tourism from the ideology of sustainable development, following the publication of the Brundtland Commission's report Our Common Future in 1987 (WCED, 1987).

The commission's report defines sustainable development as a process that meets the needs of present generations without endangering the ability of future ones to meet their own needs (WCED, 1987). According to the report, sustainability rests on three integrated elements – the ecological, socio-cultural and economic – and there are three fundamental principles in sustainable development: futurity, equity and holism (Redcliffe & Woodgate, 1997). In short, futurity refers to the needs of future generations, that is, a long-term perspective for evaluating the impacts of human activities and socio-economic development, the demand for 'equity' states that different generations should have fair and equal opportunities, and that this should apply to all people, present and future (inter- and intragenerational equity), and the holistic aspect ('holism') implies that development should be considered within broad (global, political, social, economic, and ecological) contexts and perspectives – not only on a local, for example, destination scale. In combination, futurity, equity and holism form the concept of geographical equity, in which present and future generations are not disproportionately disadvantaged on the grounds of location in space (see Hunter, 1995).

From the UN 'Earth Summit' in 1992, the need to enforce the principles of sustainable development within wider economic and social development processes highlighted the role of sustainability in tourism and its potential for advancing the goals of sustainable development (Berry & Ladkin, 1997; Butler, 1990, 1991; Hall, 1998). The growing need for sustainability in tourism was also a result of increased knowledge and concern regarding the impacts of tourism and environmental issues in general (see Holden, 2003: 95–96). Many of these concerns date back to the 1960s and 1970s (see Gössling & Hall, 2005; Hall & Lew, 1998; Mathieson & Wall, 1982), reflecting the discussions and concerns over the impacts of economic and population development as well as the limits to growth (see Meadows et al., 1972). In addition, the North/South divide became evident in the environmental debate at that time and was mirrored in tourism development discussions (see Britton, 1982, 1991; Turner & Ash, 1975).

Although these concerns on the limits to growth were truly global in scale, in tourism they were channelled to destination-level analysis on the impacts of tourism and how to define the limits of growth and prevent the negative results of development in tourism destinations (see Gössling & Hall, 2005; Inskeep, 1991). Rather than stating 'the ultimate limits to growth', questions were more concerned with issues and processes limiting the growth and industry's future, that is, limits of growth in tourism. However, the message is the same: the negative outcome (collapse) was not inevitable if tourism development actors change their policies and practices (Saarinen, 2006).

Sustainable tourism and the limits of growth

In tourism, the concept of sustainable development has emerged as a new paradigm (Holden, 2003; Macbeth, 2005). The definition of the concept has been described as complex, normative, imprecise and non-operational (Hughes, 1995; Liu, 2003; Sharpley, 2000). However, it is not only the obvious vagueness of the WCED's (1987) suggestion or multiple later definitions (see Elliott, 1994: 71), but also the conflict of interests, which cause the fuzzy picture of what sustainability is all about (Cater, 1993; Duffy, 2002; Wall, 1997). The concept of sustainable development is ideologically and politically contested, and it needs to cover a broad range of interests, which have no easily identifiable common denominator (Spangenberg, 2005). Sustainable development is an anthropocentric approach and it embraces the very contradictory ideas in tourism. In general, sustainable development implies that economic growth is needed and acceptable and that the benefits of such development should be available for all. On the other hand, it argues that economic growth causes environmental problems, which is damaging to all (Milne, 1998; Redcliffe, 1987). While sustainable development is a problematic concept with analytical weaknesses, the idea of sustainability has provided a platform in which different stake-holders in tourism can interact, negotiate and reflect the consequences of their actions on the environment.


Excerpted from Sustainable Tourism in Southern Africa by Jarkko Saarinen, Fritz Becker, Haretsebe Manwa, Deon Wilson. Copyright © 2009 Jarkko Saarinen, Fritz Becker, Haretsebe Manwa, Deon Wilson and the authors of individual chapters. Excerpted by permission of Multilingual Matters.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents


Introduction and Contexts

1 Introduction: Call for Sustainability - Jarkko Saarinen, Haretsebe Manwa, Deon Wilson and Fritz Becker

2 Tourism Development in Southern Africa: Patterns, Issues and Constraints - Chris Rogerson

3 Tourism Policy and Politics in Southern Africa - C Michael Hall

4 Gender and tourism in Southern Africa - Haretsebe Manwa

5 Sustainable Tourism: Perspectives to Sustainability in Tourism - Jarkko Saarinen

PART II Tourism development and local policies of sustainability

6 Tourism, Conservation Areas and Local Development in Namibia - Spatial Perspectives of Private and Public Sector Reform - Fritz Becker

7 Nature-based Tourism and the Commercialization of National Parks - David Mabunda and Deon Wilson

8 Natural Resource Based Tourism and Wildlife Policies in Botswana - Julius Atlhopneng & Kutlwano Mulale

9 Tourism, Nature Conservation and Environmental Legislation in Namibia - Susanne Scholz

10 Transfrontier Conservation and Local Communities - Maano Ramutsindela

PART III Tourism, Local Communities and Natural Resources in Transition

11 Village-based Tourism and Community Participation: a Case Study of the Matsheng Villages in Southwest Botswana - Naomi Moswete, Brijesh Thapa and Gary Lacey

12 Socioeconomic Impacts of Tou rism in Okavango - Joseph Mbaiwa and Michael B.K. Darkoh

13 Sustainable Tourism on Commonages: An Alternative to Traditional Agricultural-based Land Reform in Namaqualand, South Africa - Sharmla Govender van Wyk and Deon Wilson

14 Local Cuisine, Tourism and Culture - Gerrie du Rand and Ernie Heath 15 Conclusions and Critical Issues in Tourism and Sustainability in Southern Africa - Jarkko Saarinen

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