African Journal of Marine Science

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Socio-economic aspects of boat-based ecotourism during the sardine run within the Pondoland Marine Protected Area, South Africa

ML Dicken


Understanding recreational aspects of the tourism industry developing around the KwaZulu-Natal sardine run is important for the protection and sustainability of the Pondoland Marine Protected Area (MPA), on the south-east coast of South Africa. Between June and July 2007, a total of 128 people visited this area to experience the sardine run using boat-based access. An onsite questionnaire survey of 108 (84.4%) participants at Port St Johns and Mbotyi indicated that the direct value of their visit was around R5.47 million (95% CI = R5.14–5.82 million). Although the benefits of the sardine run tourism industry extend throughout the South African economy, local indigenous communities receive little direct benefit. Almost half of all sardine run participants, however, showed a willingness to contribute R500 or more towards a community development programme. On a ranking from one (poor) to five (excellent), the average participant’s response to overall quality of the experience and quality of the dive charter was 3.9 and 4.4, respectively. Over a quarter (27%) of participants never saw a sardine during their visit, despite the fact that their trip was marketed as ‘the sardine run’, so participant experiences often did not meet with expectations. The sardine run within the Pondoland MPA is currently an undermarketed and underexploited resource.

Keywords: ecotourism, economic valuation, marine protected area, Pondoland, sardine run, South Africa

African Journal of Marine Science 2010, 32(2): 405–411
AJOL African Journals Online