Community based tourism projects as a vehicle for creating entrepreneurial opportunities in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Tourism is a modern-day engine for growth and one of the largest industries globally. Being a labour intensive industry with a supply chain that links many sectors, tourism is a priority sector in the national government’s planning and policy framework. To understand the impact of community based tourism (CBT) projects in KwaZulu-Natal, the research used a multi-pronged approach by applying naturalistic enquiry principles. Two case studies were selected for this study, namely Ugu District Municipality and eThekwini Municipality. The former was chosen because of its potential to provide best practices in CBT whilst the later provided a broader perspective due to the considerable number of tourists received by the City annually. A mixed method research design was used. The qualitative method involved semi-structured interviews, while the quantitative component comprised survey questionnaires. Access to participants for the in-depth-interviews was achieved through snowball sampling, whilst survey questionnaires were distributed to the members of the community using a convenience sampling technique. Focus group discussions, in-depth interviews and researcher-administered questionnaires formed the core of the data collection. In total 179 people participated in the study, of which 160 were community members, 3 representatives from Municipalities and 16 CBT representatives. The results of the study show that CBT projects have a potential to uplift the community’s livelihoods. Although a number of community benefits were realised, the viability of CBT is affected by various factors. Despite increasing the community’s standard of living and creating employment opportunities, collective benefits are usually not enough to cater for all the needs of the community members. CBT projects however cannot be a panacea to solving unemployment and poverty problems in the surrounding local communities but should be used as an alternative livelihood option to complement other sectors. The study notes the challenges of CBT and recommendations are made on their future direction.
Keywords: Community based tourism, livelihoods, poverty, tourism, employment.
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