Rural Tourism: A South African Township Perspective

Rural Tourism: A South African Township Perspective

Adele Potgieter (Nelson Mandela University, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1302-6.ch010
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Rural tourism provides an alternative for tourists from traditional sun and sea destinations. For many tourists, rural tourism provides the opportunity to experience authentic socio-cultural experiences of smaller areas in countries. The chapter alludes to different types of rural tourism. The results of two township studies in South Africa provide insights into tourists and resident's perspective of township tours. The unique nature of rural tourism as well as the opportunities and challenges associated with it, are discussed. The chapter provides perspectives regarding the management of rural destinations to balance social, economic, and environmental costs and benefits of these areas.
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The tourism industry serves as a strong pillar of growth for most healthy economies. Statistics indicate that in 2017, the travel and tourism industry contributed over 7.6 trillion dollars to the global economy (Statista, 2018). To achieve a varied sustainable approach to tourism development, many traditionally sun-sea-sand destinations have diversified into rural tourism.

Tourists add rural tourism to their travel ventures for various reasons. Stremikiene and Bilan (2015) claim that rural tourism is suitable for the following tourists: tourists that are mainly motivated by the desire to escape from routine; that search for unforgettable lifetime experiences and adventures; that wish to learn more about nature; that have the desire for pleasure and recreation, that generally search for beautiful landscapes, that enjoy quiet, low noise and clean environments; and who are in the pursuit of intellectual enrichment.

Property development is not a strong driver of rural tourism. Rural tourism was created largely by recycling and reassessing heritage resources as tourist attractions and accommodation (Lane & Kastenholz, 2015). In most cases, rural tourism is developed by rural people on a small, low-cost scale as they are typically new to tourism entrepreneurship (Long & Nguyen, 2018). The development of rural tourism can therefore be seen as an effective means to achieve a variety of tourism objectives such as mitigating the problems of seasonality, spreading the social-economic benefit of tourism into various areas, encouraging independent non-organized tourism, attracting different spending markets, promoting cultural instead of just climatic attractions of the destination and satisfying the demand for more environmental tourism (Ateljevic & Page, 2017).

The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview and a practical example of rural tourism in South Africa, as well as to highlight challenges, opportunities and possible management of rural tourism in general. The results of two studies provide insights into the tourist’s opinion of South African townships as an authentic rural experience, whilst the results of the second study elaborate on how residents experience the socio-cultural impacts of township tours on their overall life satisfaction. The management of rural tourism is then addressed. To reach the objectives of the chapter, the chapter is structured as follows: Firstly, the background and types of rural tourism are provided. Thereafter, geographical, socio-cultural, and financial factors of township tours in South Africa are discussed. The influence of township tours on residents are then eluded to before opportunities and challenges of rural tourism are discussed. The chapter concludes with the management of rural destinations and provides possible solutions and recommendation for future studies.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Township Tour: A tour to an area where historical events or political rivalry took place in South Africa, with the aim of learning and experiencing the activity that takes place there.

Skill: A skill is an ability and knowledge that enables a person to do something well.

Socio-Economic: How social ethics, norms, emerging popular sentiments, as well as other social philosophies, shape public buying trends and influence consumer behavior.

Infrastructure: Basic physical systems such as communication, transportation, water, sewage and electric systems needed for basic economic development.

Agri-Tourism: Where tourists visit any agricultural, horticultural or working farm operation for education, enjoyment or active involvement in the activities of the farm or operation.

Sangoma: A type of traditional healer in South Africa.

Rural Tourism: Tourism that is related to dedicated travels to rural areas which can include accommodation, excursions, services, entertainment, and meals.

Ecotourism: Where the tourist prefers to visit natural areas to enjoy nature, including animal and plant life, usually in remote areas.

Resident: A person who lives somewhere on a long-term basis or permanently.

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