Young Sowetans and tourism participation: Identifying opportunities to develop further engagement with South African national parks
Recreational spaces controlled by South Africa National Parks (SANParks) play a major role in attracting high volumes of international tourists to South Africa. However, attracting a wider spectrum of domestic visitors has remained a problematic issue. The majority of South African citizens are black Africans yet they remain significantly underrepresented in overall domestic visits to national parks. This has prompted a range of strategies to be developed in order to promote the benefits of leisure and recreation activities to black South Africans. However, these approaches have largely focused on black middle classes; excluding many of the country’s poorest citizens, located in townships like Soweto, in engagement strategies. Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, this research yields a range of observations that shed further light into the perceptions of young black South Africans towards national parks and tourism engagement. Although this study establishes that economic impediments are significant factors that restrict young Sowetans from visiting national parks, non-economic barriers also exist. A range of recommendations that could foster further engagement are drawn from the key observations found in this study.
Keywords: National parks, South Africa, Soweto, community involvement, domestic tourism.
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