Rural tourism development: a viable formula for poverty alleviation in Bergville
The case of rural tourism and community development has been made in general terms with less focus on poverty alleviation and more emphasis on economic modernisation. Recently, a link between rural tourism and poverty alleviation has been emphasised in the contemporary tourism and poverty alleviation literature. The aim of the study was to analyse the direct and indirect livelihood impacts of tourism development and their implications on poverty alleviation in Bergville. Since tourism is one of the largest sectors in the economy of South Africa, the researcher was keen to know more about its benefits to rural society like Bergville at large and in particular the rural poor in Bergville. This paper addresses the following three research questions. What is the level to which rural tourism development can contribute to economic development, which can result in poverty alleviation in the Bergville area? Can rural tourism development in Bergville bring a halt to the continuous rural-urban migration which is triggered by poverty in the area? What are the perceptions of the Bergville residents towards rural tourism development as a mechanism for poverty alleviation? This study was carried out on the basis of a combination of two types of research data. The first is secondary data which aimed at defining the terms related to the research and focus on literature review. From literature review we discuss the different viewpoints about rural tourism, poverty alleviation and community development. The second type of research data is primary data obtained through field research. Results show that while the people are pessimistic that the resourcefulness and accessibility of Bergville can support tourism development, they are also of the view that rural tourism is a very important, probably the most important, factor for economic development. The research also recommends that local tourism planners adopt both the advocacy paradigm and the cautionary paradigm by taking advantage of the benefits of rural tourism development and managing the negative impacts thereof.
Keywords: Tourism, rural tourism, poverty, poverty alleviation, Bergville KwaZulu-Natal