AN INVESTIGATION OF THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF ECOTOURISM IN RURAL AREAS: A CASE STUDY OF NOMPONDO, A COMMUNITY BORDERING THE HLUHLUWE-IMFOLOZI PARK IN KWAZULU-NATAL
Sakhile Nsukwini
University of KwaZulu-Natal

 

Abstract:

The relationship between Protected Areas and the adjacent communities is important in enhancing the success of both parties. The aim of this study was to examine the socio-economic impacts of ecotourism in rural areas adjacent to the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP) with specific reference to the Nompondo community. Triangulation (a multi-method approach) was used to assess the attitudes and perceptions of the communities towards tourists, resources within the park, as well as the role of communities in the development and promotion of tourism in the park. The study of the Nompondo community adjacent to the HiP shows that this community benefits in various ways. Accessibility to natural resources such as thatching grass and water was cited as one of the benefits. Participation in the operation and management of the park was yet another benefit that was identified. In addition, the results show that a range of opportunities for positive interactions with park’s management/staff include job opportunities, good working relations and joint problem solving. Ecotourism development as a benefit was revealed through two specific areas, namely interaction with the tourists, as well as the desire to have tourists visiting the community and the establishment of tourist facilities in the community. The respondents also cited opportunities for ecotourism and related incomes, which involve the sale of handicraft products, job opportunities and cultural activities. Furthermore, education/training programmes, particularly camps for children, capacity building and the training of tour community guides were also cited. In addition, natural resource management including the establishment of the Vukuzame Craft Market and participation in decision-making were also identified as specific benefits. The socio-economic impacts in all the identified specific areas except for participation in the management of the park where local communities are not fully involved were positive. This suggests that there is a need to involve local communities in the operation and management of the park as well as other community-based ecotourism endeavours in order to uplift their standards of living.

 

Presentation Topic

AN INVESTIGATION OF THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF ECOTOURISM IN RURAL AREAS: A CASE STUDY OF NOMPONDO, A COMMUNITY BORDERING THE HLUHLUWE-IMFOLOZI PARK IN KWAZULU-NATAL

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