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Nature-based Tourism and Environmental Sustainability in South Africa

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Assessments of environmental factors contributing to sustainable tourism are described in relation to four photographic wildlife tourism enterprises in South Africa. A series of qualitative and quantitative results are presented to demonstrate how nature-based tourism enterprises in protected areas address their environmental impacts. Field-based evaluations and interviews with local community members show how a new Sustain-able Nature-based Tourism Assessment Toolkit (SUNTAT) was used to evaluate enterprise performance. Motivations underlying environmentally responsible activities undertaken by private-and public-sector enterprises are described, in addition to their limitations and constraints. Conclusions are made regarding the need for environmen-tally responsible activities to utilise commercially appropriate best practice, and to consider both the local level and neighbouring livelihood strategies.
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Nature-based Tourism and Environmental
Sustainability in South Africa
Anna Spenceley
International Centre for Responsible Tourism, Earth and Environmental
Sciences, University of Greenwich, Chatham Maritime, UK
Assessments of environmental factors contributing to sustainable tourism are described
in relation to four photographic wildlife tourism enterprises in South Africa. A series of
qualitative and quantitative results are presented to demonstrate how nature-based
tourism enterprises in protected areas address their environmental impacts. Field-based
evaluations and interviews with local community members show how a new Sustain-
able Nature-based Tourism Assessment Toolkit (SUNTAT) was used to evaluate
enterprise performance. Motivations underlying environmentally responsible activities
undertaken by private- and public-sector enterprises are described, in addition to their
limitations and constraints. Conclusions are made regarding the need for environmen-
tally responsible activities to utilise commercially appropriate best practice, and to
consider both the local level and neighbouring livelihood strategies.
Keywords: sustainable development, environmental impacts, nature-based
tourism, protected areas, Delphi consultation
Introduction
The purpose of this paper is to describe the environmental sustainability of
four tourism enterprises in South Africa. Data are provided to illustrate how
environmental information was obtained through the application of a new
holistic Sustainable Nature-based Tourism Assessment Toolkit (SUNTAT).
Qualitative and quantitative results from the field studies have been evaluated
and presented. Examples of environmentally responsible processes and perfor-
mance are used to demonstrate how the toolkit may be applied to collect reliable
and comparable data. Complementary to the empirical data, this paper also
discusses motivations underlying environmentally responsible activities by
private- and public-sector enterprises. Limitations and constraints to environ-
mental sustainability that relate to commercial and political forces are also
reviewed. The paper highlights the importance of applying commercially and
locally appropriate environmental best practice.
The importance of this work rests in four main areas. Firstly, it presents data
from the evaluation of sustainable tourism development in developing coun-
tries, which tends to be underrepresented in the literature (Tosun, 2001).
Secondly, the paper illustrates how progress has been made to move past the
debate surrounding what sustainable tourism is or is not, and towards tangibly
assessing the constituent factors of sustainability, as defined by regional experts.
Thirdly, instead of focusing narrowly on one level of environmental impacts (e.g.
wildlife behavioural change), the research demonstrates the importance of eval-
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uating both micro- and macro-level issues to strategically address sustainability.
Fourthly, the paper provides examples of benchmarks that may be used to
demonstrate how environmentally responsible interventions at the local level
have cumulative implications for a sustainable nature-based tourism industry at
a strategic level.
Strategies and quantitative data presented will be useful for researchers
attempting to assess the environmental sustainability of tourism. The findings
will illustrate a range of simple but reliable environmental factors that may be
assessed at low cost, over a short time-scale and by one researcher. In addition,
the research has practical applications for tourism enterprises with regard to
improving their environmental performance and reducing operating costs. By
providing tools to tangibly demonstrate their achievements, the paper illustrates
how nature-based tourism enterprises may validly promote their environmen-
tally responsible activities in the market-place.
Practical steps taken by commercial nature-based tourism enterprises to
improve their environmental sustainability are described. These steps focus on
minimising operational environmental impacts within the enterprise infrastruc-
ture, promoting sound environmental management within protected areas
where self-guided or escorted game drives take place, and also considering the
wider environmental context of neighbouring landowners and rural local
communities. Practical commercial issues that constrain tourism enterprises in
the operation of responsible tourism are reviewed in relation to human resource
capacity, turnover, and local politics. Therefore, the theory of environmental
sustainability is linked to best practice activities that are feasible in reality.
Background
Research and discussion regarding sustainable tourism development has
grown in volume since the Brundtland Report proposed that intergenerational
equity could not be achieved unless the environmental impacts of economic
activities were considered (WCED, 1987: 43). Concern for sustainable tourism
arose from the increasing realisation that mass tourism could have significant
detrimental environmental impacts in destinations if it was not controlled.
Nature-based tourism, which incorporates the enjoyment of wildlife or undevel-
oped natural areas (WTTERC, 1993), was of special concern. This was in part
because degradation of the environment fundamentally undermines the poten-
tial for nature-based tourism to be attractive to visitors (Roe et al., 1997).
Researchers have produced comprehensive reviews of sustainable tourism
issues that consider the ‘triple bottom line’ of sustainability (Elkington, 1997):
economic, social and environmental factors (e.g. Archer & Cooper, 1994;
Bramwell & Lane, 1993; Harris & Leiper, 1995; Mowforth & Munt, 1998).
Although the field studies undertaken addressed the triple bottom line, only
the environmental aspects of sustainable tourism are reviewed within this paper.
Environmental impact studies attempt to generalise relationships between
tourism activities and impacts with respect to specific ecosystems and distur-
bance characteristics (Knight & Cole, 1995). Evaluation techniques used to
predict and avoid development impacts that are detrimental to the environment
include the Limits of Acceptable Change (Stankey et al., 1984), Environmental
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Table 1 Overview of environmental impacts of tourism (Spenceley, 2003a)
AIR: Impacts of transport activity and facility power include:
air and noise pollution from vehicles (Mathieson & Wall, 1982); and
increased carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion which contributes to
global climate change (Adams, 1990).
WATER: Impacts of the disposal of waste into water bodies include the:
introduction of minerals, nutrients, sewage, petrol and toxins to the environment (FAO,
1972; Mathieson & Wall, 1982); and
contamination reduces water quality and may lead to potential health hazards to animals
(Mathieson & Wall, 1982; Wang & Miko, 1997).
GEOLOGY & SOIL: Impacts of collection, vandalism, erosion include:
removal of minerals, rocks, fossils and items of archaeological interest, and graffiti
(Mathieson & Wall, 1982);
physical and chemical changes in soil (Mathieson & Wall, 1982); and
erosion (Sun & Walsh, 1998) and soil compaction, which affects invertebrate fauna (Duffey,
1975).
LANDSCAPE: Impacts of Formal and informal development include:
visual impact of settlements on the landscape (Sindiyo & Pertet, 1984); and
potential improvement in the landscape’s appearance (Perdue et al. 1990) through preserva-
tion of heritage structures (Lui et al. 1987).
HABITATS: Impacts of clearing for construction and tourism facility include:
decrease in natural habitat (e.g. wetlands) due to resource use and/or tourism construction
(Burton, 1998);
competition between native and invasive plant species from resort gardens; and
increased fire frequency (Buckley, 1991) leading to habitat change (Mathieson & Wall, 1982).
Impacts of pedestrian and vehicular traffic include:
changes in germination, establishment, growth and reproduction (Cole & Landres, 1995),
species diversity, composition, and plant morphology (Sun & Liddle, 1993); and
disappearance of fragile species (Sun & Liddle, 1993) and replacement by more resilient
species (Mathieson & Wall, 1982).
Impacts of plants and fungi collection include:
changes in species composition and disappearance of rare species (Rogers, 1981).
WILDLIFE: Impacts of hunting and fishing include:
changes in species composition and social behaviour (e.g. elephants, lions); disappearance of
rare species; and
reduction of habituated animals (Sindiyo & Pertet, 1984).
Impacts of pollution include:
effects on health including psychological stress, behavioural changes, reductions in produc-
tivity due to noise pollution (Bowles, 1995); and
use of waste disposal areas as sources of food (Speight, 1973; Spenceley, 1997).
Impacts of wildlife harassment resulting from viewing and photography include:
behavioural changes: avoidance, habituation or attraction to humans resulting from interac-
tions (Knight & Cole, 1995);
physiological changes: change in heart rate (Gabrielsen & Smith, 1995), effects on growth rates
and abundance (Anderson, 1995);
species composition and distribution: changes in species composition, diversity and abundance
and interspecific interactions (Gutzwiller, 1995; Knight & Cole, 1995). Displacement due to
recreational activity (Klein et al. 1995);
disruption of feeding: found in birds (Hulbert, 1990), rhinoceros (McCoy, 1995), hunting behav-
iour in lions (Ceballos-Lascuráin, 1996), wolves and bears (Knight and Cole, 1995); and
effects on breeding success: direct destruction (Burger, 1981) or abandonment, and increased
predation on bird nests (Burger et al. 1995), disruption of reproductive behaviour in antelope
(Edington & Edington, 1986) and reptiles (Cott, 1969).
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Impact Assessment (Bagri et al., 1998), Strategic Environmental Assessment
(Therivel et al., 1992), Ecological Impact Assessment (Beanlands & Duinker,
1984) and Cumulative Effects Assessment (Peterson et al., 1987). Aspects of these
and other tools were incorporated within the research where appropriate to the
SUNTAT.
There have been a number of reviews of environmental impacts research (e.g.
Knight & Gutzwiller, 1995; Mathieson & Wall, 1982; Speight, 1973). A summary
of environmental impact research in Table 1 highlights the dominance of interest
in tourism assessments linked to habitats and wildlife, rather than issues
regarding air, water, geology and landscape. Given the diversity of environ-
mental issues that may be evaluated, this research focused on environmental
factors that were prioritised by regional stakeholders.
Environmental impact research has a number of limitations, which include
(Briassoulis, 1991; Mathieson & Wall, 1982; van der Duim & Caalders, 2002;
Whittaker & Knight, 1998):
tourism involves linked activities, making it difficult to distinguish between
impacts arising from different activities (including other industries, and
natural changes) and therefore to connect cause and effect;
cumulative, synergistic, indirect and long-term impacts are difficult to iden-
tify and assess;
changes in wildlife behaviour may be species-specific and may not actually
be detrimental to their survival; and
the extent to which ecosystems can recuperate following impacts is poorly
understood.
The development of the new assessment toolkit addressed these issues by
incorporating a mixture of simple and practical techniques that addressed activi-
ties both inside and outside tourism enterprises. Appreciating that ecosystems
are complex and poorly understood, tools from process- and performance-based
environmental management systems were combined with expert stakeholder
opinion and baseline ecological information to provide practical approaches to
address aspects of environmental sustainability (Spenceley, 2003a).
Historically, the lack of responsibility shown by tour operators towards envi-
ronmental and cultural resources in destinations has been attributed to the lack
of ownership and control over ground operations (Ashworth & Goodall, 1990),
coupled with intense competition between tour operators and low profit
margins (Evans & Stabler, 1995). However, evidence suggests that tour operators
are increasingly requiring that their ground handlers report on their environ-
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Impacts of the development of highways and trails in natural areas include:
species-specific disturbance caused by roads, buildings and plantations (van der Zande et al.
1980);
barrier effects to carnivores, collisions, increased accessibility to wild areas by poachers
(Noss et al. 1986); and
vehicles kill and/or maim wildlife during collisions, from which scavengers profit
(Mathieson & Wall, 1982).
Table 1 (contd)
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mental performance (e.g. the Association of Independent Tour Operators
(AITO)). This is in part due to the growing market demand from consumers for
environmentally sensitive holidays (see Table 2).
Although most tourists make purchasing decisions based on price, climate,
facilities and quality, it is clear from the Tearfund and Mori surveys (see Table 2)
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Table 2 Consumer attitudes to the environment and sustainable tourism
(Spenceley, 2003a)
Issue Proportion of sample Source
Importance of environmentally sensitive policies and practices
More likely to book hotels with
a good environmental attitude
87% British
60% Australians
54% Americans
IHEI study, cited in Anon, 2002
(n= 300 travellers at airports
in UK, Australia and US)
It was important that their
holiday did not damage
destination environments
71% Stueve et al. 2002.
(n= 4300 adults in the USA)
Importance that the holiday
should not damage the
environment
2000 – 85%
2002 – 87%
MORI study for ABTA, cited
by Goodwin and Francis,
2003
(n= 963 British public in
2000; n= 713 in 2002)
At least fairly important to deal
with a company that took into
account environmental issues
when arranging holidays and
business trips
1995 – 52%
1997 – 61%
MORI, 1995, 1997, cited in
Martin & Stubbs, Undated
(British Public)
Importance of socially responsible policies and practices
More likely to book a holiday
with a company that had a
written code guaranteeing good
working conditions, protection
of the environment and support
of local charities in the tourist
destination
1999 – 45%
2001 – 52%
Tearfund, 2001; 2002
(1999: nationally and
regionally representative
sample of n= 2032 adults in
the UK; 2001 n= 927)
Knowing that they had booked
with a company with good
ethical practice made their
holiday enjoyable
24% Mintel, 2001
(n=2028; UK holiday makers
= 1636) July 2001
Importance of the holiday
benefiting people in the
destination (e.g. through jobs
and business opportunities)
2000 – 71%
2002 – 76%
MORI study for ABTA, cited
by Goodwin and Francis,
2003 (n= 963 British public in
2000; n= 713 in 2002)
Respect towards the ways of
living and the traditions of the
local host population was the
most important criterion for
them when booking a holiday
95% Forschungsinstitut für Freizeit
und Tourismus (FIF), Müller
and Landes, 2000 (German
tourists)
Note: The sample size is indicated, where known.
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that the sustainability of their travel experiences are becoming increasingly
important. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the tourism industry to transpar-
ently demonstrate that they are operating responsibly and making progress
towards environmental sustainability: an objective that the new SUNTAT may
facilitate.
Research addressed within this paper concerned the environmental sustainability
of nature-based tourism enterprises in South Africa. South Africa provided the
ideal context for the work given the nation’s rich biodiversity, its established
nature-based tourism industry, and the strong national policy basis for respon-
sible tourism development.
Biodiversity has been acknowledged by the South African Government as one
of the mainstays of economic sectors such as tourism, recreation, agriculture,
forestry, horticulture and fisheries. In cognisance of this, South Africa ratified the
Convention on Biological Diversity in 1995 (DEAT, 2000) within the 1997
National Policy on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s
Biological Diversity (DEAT, 1997). South Africa has 422 formally protected areas
and 160 privately owned reserves covering approximately 6% of the land surface
area (DEAT, 1999). There is a major demand for nature-based tourism, and
approximately 60% of all foreign visitors experience wildlife in a game or nature
reserve during their visit (DEAT, 1996) (see Figure 1).
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Figure 1 Activities experienced by foreign visitors in South Africa (adapted from
DSI, 1999a, 1999b
Percentage of all foreign visitors
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The South Africa Government aims to manage the nation’s tourism industry in
the interests of sustainable development in such a way that it contributes to the
improvement of the quality of life of all its citizens. The White Paper on the Devel-
opment and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa (DEAT, 1996) proposed that
tourism development should be underpinned by responsible environmental
practices and should encourage the conservation and sustainable use of tourism
resources. Specifically, the White Paper promoted the:
maintenance and encouragement of natural, economic, social and cultural
diversity;
sustainable use of local resources;
avoidance of waste and overconsumption;
assessment of environmental, social and economic impacts of tourism devel-
opments; and
monitoring of tourism impacts with open disclosure of information.
South Africa, like many other countries, has not reported on the progress made
by tourism enterprises towards achieving responsible tourism. This has largely
been due to the lack of availability of appropriate tools that reliably measure
environmental performance. Therefore, this research aimed to address the short-
fall by developing and testing a range of performance- and process- based tools
that could be used to gauge the environmental sustainability of nature-based
tourism. Existing information regarding sustainable tourism development has
predominately been produced within developed countries (Tosun, 2001), and
therefore this research emphasised that stakeholders from developing coun-
tries should be active participants in the process. Consulting southern African
experts and stakeholders regarding factors that they considered essential to
sustainable nature-based tourism ensured the regional relevance of the new
toolkit.
Method
The research process consisted of three key phases: literature review, Delphi
consultation and case studies.
Literature review
Objectives of the literature review were to (Spenceley, 2003a):
elicit the nature and range of factors that had been internationally and
regionally identified as pertinent to tourism development;
identify existing assessment techniques; and
identify southern African stakeholders who could be invited to participate
within the Delphi consultation.
Literature searches were used to identify academic, consultancy and newspaper
articles that would allow these objectives to be met. Searches were mainly under-
taken through search engines, institutional libraries, databases and websites. By
the time that the research process was concluded, the collection had reached over
2100 references (Spenceley, 2003a).
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Delphi consultation
A range of consultation techniques may be used to solicit opinions from stake-
holders. These include questionnaires, surveys, advertisements, interviews,
community liaison, public meetings, community advisory committees, simula-
tion exercises (Wood, 1995), focus groups (Berry & Ladkin, 1997), the Panel
Evaluation Method (Stauth et al., 1993), the Delphi technique (Pill, 1971), Rapid
Rural Appraisal (Conway & Barbier, 1990), and Participatory Rural Appraisal
(Chambers, 1981). The Delphi technique was applied as the primary consultation
method within this research, due to its capacity to address the primary objectives
of the consultation phase in a cost-efficient and practical manner.
The objectives of the Delphi consultation were to (Spenceley, 2003a):
identify factors relevant to the development of sustainable tourism that had
not been previously described in the literature;
list factors from the literature review that were linked with sustainable
tourism;
determine the relative importance of these factors in generating sustainable
nature-based tourism, as rated by southern African stakeholders; and
evaluate the degree of consensus on the relative importance of sustainability
factors among the regional consultees.
The Delphi technique was developed as a tool for technological forecasting by the
RAND Corporation (Dalkey & Helmer, 1963). It is an accepted method of gath-
ering information on issues that are not easily quantifiable, and provides a rapid,
effective way of collecting expert opinion and gaining consensus from a group of
knowledgeable people on various unknown factors or complex problems (Green
et al., 1990; Linstone & Turoff, 1975; Pill, 1971). Green et al. (1990) state that three
rounds are sufficient to achieve group consensus in Delphi consultations against
declining response rates, which was the approach used in this research. An over-
view of the Delphi consultation process is depicted in Figure 2.
The Delphi consultation was initiated with an anonymous survey of selected
individuals who possessed relevant skills. Wheeller et al. (1990) highlight the
need for a ‘balanced’ panel when applying the Delphi technique, and note that
there must be an element of judgement in achieving such a panel across a spread
of experts from different backgrounds (e.g. academics, business representatives
and local residents). The choice of consultation panel members here was
designed to represent a range of conflicting interests from divergent groups that
were relevant to sustainable nature-based tourism. Seventy-five individuals
were selected to form the panel in the first round. This scoping round was under-
taken to determine factors that southern African stakeholders considered were
crucial in achieving sustainable nature-based tourism, and which were unlikely
to be reflected in the academic literature (Spenceley, 2003a).
During the second round a larger panel was invited to participate in order to
increase the reliability and validity of the process, and to engage with more
representatives from different institutions across southern Africa. In the second
round, 518 individuals were asked to rate the importance of factors identified
during the literature review and the scoping round. A Likert-scale rating system
(Likert, 1967) was used by panel members to rate the relative importance of
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various factors as either ‘essential’, ‘desirable’, ‘irrelevant’, ‘undesirable’, or
‘incompatible’ with sustainable nature-based tourism (Spenceley, 2003a).
Ratings made by respondents during the second round were combined and
circulated to panel members. The participants were asked if they wished to
revise their ratings in light of the group’s responses during the third round.
Chi-square analysis was then used to evaluate the statistical significance of
agreement on different factors. Here it was assumed that consensus had been
achieved when the level of agreement on the mode was at least statistically
significant (i.e. p< 0.05) (Spenceley, 2003a). This approach differed from
previous Delphi consultations, which have predominantly used mean or median
scores coupled with standard deviations to reflect concurrence on ratings and
the degree of convergence (e.g. Kaynak & Macauley, 1984; Miller, 2001; Seely et
al., 1980). Consequently, factors that were rated as ‘essential’ or ‘incompatible’
with sustainable nature-based tourism with a statistically significant degree of
agreement were included within the assessment toolkit (Spenceley, 2003a).
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LITERATURE REVIEW
Round 1: Scoping
DELPHI CONSULTATION
Round 2: Detailed
questionnaire
Round 3: Review of group responses
and consensus building
Factors
Delphi
consultation report
Consultees
Factors
Figure 2 The Delphi consultation process (Spenceley, 2003a)
Sustainable
Tourism
Factors
Sustainable
Tourism
Factors
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Table 3 Environmental factors identified as ‘essential’ or ‘incompatible’ with
sustainable nature-based tourism in transfrontier conservation areas (TFCA)
(Spenceley, 2003a)
Essential factors
Mechanisms to finance integrated management schemes that are agreed by TFCA
nations
Effective, appropriate and simple management procedures
A multidisciplinary approach to TFCA management
Long-term management objectives
Management processes that can adapt to avoid or mitigate negative impacts
Monitoring of the impacts of policy, planning and implementation on the TFCA
Management that incorporates ecological and conservation principles
Monitoring that is strategically and scientifically planned
Feedback of monitoring results into the planning and policy process
Adaptive management strategies to cope with unpredictable ecosystems
Management programmes designed to enhance the long-term conservation of
natural resources in the TFCA
Sustainable levels of natural resource use within the TFCA
Strategic, integrated poaching control within the TFCA
Control of invasive species in the TFCA
A balance between the need for conservation and the economic need for tourism
development
Environmental mitigation plans designed to deal with negative environmental
impacts from tourist developments
Tourist resorts that discourage sales of rare natural products (e.g. animals, plants,
and their products)
A transparent and accountable hunting system
Regulation and policing of a licensed hunting system
Remediation of contaminated watercourses and water bodies polluted by tourism
That organic waste disposal does not exceed the assimilative capacity of natural
sinks
Integrated multilateral TFCA management design and implementation
Strategic adaptive management processes
Conservation management plans with standardised, measurable conservation
objectives
Monitoring of waste water quality by tourism developments
Key champions that oversee development, coordination and implementation of
management plans
Monitoring and auditing mechanisms that are integrated between TFCA countries
A landscape management approach
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During the Delphi consultation over 500 individuals, representing nearly
350 organisations within nine southern African countries, were invited to
participate, and 197 of the invitees chose to contribute to the study (Spenceley,
2003a). Of the 183 policy, planning, economic, environmental, social and cultural
factors that consultees agreed were critical to the sustainable development of
nature-based tourism from the Delphi consultation, 47 were related to environ-
mental issues (25.7%) (Spenceley, 2003a) (see Table 3). Further details of the
Delphi consultation process results may be found elsewhere (Spenceley, 2000),
but the core focus of this paper is to report the environmental findings of the case
studies.
Case studies
Case studies are described as strategies of undertaking research that involve
empirical investigations of certain contemporary phenomena within their
real-life contexts, through the use of multiple sources of evidence (Robson, 1993).
Four study sites were selected from a large population of terrestrial nature-based
tourism operations based in and around Kruger National Park (KNP) (see Figure
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Incompatible factors
Use of non-renewable resources that exceeds the rate at which replacement
resources can be created
That renewable resources are used at a rate higher than their regeneration rates
The use of invasive plant species in tourist resort landscaping schemes
Irrigation (or filling in) of wetland areas to develop resorts on dry land
Vandalism in the TFCA
Reduction in plant species diversity and composition due to tourism disturbance
Disappearance of fragile species due to tourism disturbance
Negative impacts on plant germination, establishment and growth due to tourism
disturbance
Fire caused by tourists
Changes in wildlife species composition due to disturbance by tourists
Changes in diversity of wildlife species in tourist areas
Decreased survivorship of young due to disturbance or destruction by tourism
Selling more hunting quotas than is appropriate for the population size and regen-
eration rate of wildlife
Poaching wildlife for trophies
Harmful impacts of waste disposal on the environment
Damage to natural landmarks or heritage sites by tourists or developers
Changes in community structures of wildlife due to tourism disturbance
Consumption that exceeds the recharge rate of reservoirs and aquifers from
rainfall
Stocking of non-indigenous species in the TFCA
Table 3 (contd)
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3). All four enterprises operated photographic safari tourism as their core busi-
ness, and did so within lowveld savannah habitats where fauna such as elephant,
rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard could be found. In all four cases, the enterprises
were located within a protected area and had a rural community as an immediate
neighbour on one border. Land on other borders of the enterprises was also
protected, and either privately or publicly owned. The enterprises of Ngala,
Pretoriuskop, Jackalberry and Sabi Sabi were selected for study in order to
exhibit differences on a range of independent variables within the toolkit. As
Table 4 indicates, the enterprises varied with respect to their land context, owner-
ship, traversing area, land tenure, traversing rights, capacity, price range and the
type of interactions with local people. These variations allowed the reliability of
the toolkit to be tested under different conditions.
The case studies took place between 23 July 2000 and 4 May 2001. On-site plan-
ning of the assessments took place with the enterprise managers, and included
familiarisation with the enterprise structure, their staff and contractors, local
stakeholders and documentation that was available for review.
Techniques used during the case studies
The 47 environmental factors prioritised during the Delphi consultation were
combined within a draft assessment toolkit, and the case studies were used as
mechanisms to test the practicality of their evaluation. A variety of simple tools
were used to assess the environmental factors at the enterprises, which included
literature review, observation and stakeholder interviews (Spenceley, 2003a).
Linkages were formed with tools from complementary research programmes to
improve the validity of the research. The main sources of associated research lay
in the fields of pro-poor tourism (Ashley et al., 2001; Poultney & Spenceley, 2001),
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Figure 3 Location map
South Africa
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Table 4 Variation of independent variables between enterprises (Spenceley, 2003a)
Ngala Pretoriuskop Jackalberry Sabi Sabi
Land context
In the Timbavati Private
Nature Reserve (PNR)
unfenced from Kruger
National Park (KNP)
A camp in KNP In the Thornybush
Game Reserve
close to KNP
In the Sabi Sands
Wildtuin,
unfenced from
KNP
Conservation status
National Park National Park PNR PNR
Area land
~147 km2within ~789
km2PNR
~620 km2for region
within ~20,000 km2
park
~43 km2within
~24 km2PNR
~32 km2within
~750 km2PNR
Land ownership
Privately owned land Government owned
land
Privately owned
land
Privately owned
land
Land tenure
Land leased from
private owner by
management company
Land owned by
public management
company
Land owned by
private
management
company
Land owned by
private
management
company
Infrastructure ownership
Privately owned Publicly owned Privately owned Privately owned
Number of other operations managed by same organisation
22 lodges in six African
countries
18 national parks in
South Africa. In
KNP: 13 rest camps
(plus 6 bushveld
and 5 private
camps)
None None
Capacity
1 camp with 21 rooms
(42 beds)
1 camp with 136
units (352 beds) and
40 camp sites
1 camp with 5
rooms (10 beds)
3 camps with 46
rooms (92 beds)
Price range (approximate figures given where converted from Rands)
US$340 to $475 p/p per
night.
Price includes meals,
game drives, game
walks
~US$7 to ~$245 per
site/room/guest
house.
Accommodation
only
~US$170 to ~$205
p/p sharing. Price
includes meals,
game drives, game
walks
~US$410 to ~$1050
p/p sharing. Price
includes meals,
game drives, game
walks
Closest rural community
Welverdiend Numbi Timbavati Huntingdon
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sustainable livelihoods (Spenceley, 2003b), responsible tourism (Spenceley et al.,
2004; DEAT, 2002), and Fair Trade in Tourism.
Literature review
Documentation reviewed during the four assessments varied in relation to the
availability of environmental information. Literature included land manage-
ment policies; enterprise- and conservancy-level environmental management
plans; environmental management reports; habitat and wildlife distribution
maps; staff training materials; codes of conduct and social development reports
(Spenceley, 2003a).
Observation
Direct observation was used for the assessment of a number of factors,
including habitat and access management, erosion, and behavioural adaptation
by certain species of wildlife. This form of data collection was generally subjec-
tive, but was used to confirm information provided within documentation or
anecdotally from expert stakeholders (Spenceley, 2003a).
Stakeholder interviews
Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with managers and heads of
departments within the enterprises regarding environmental sustainability
issues. Semi-structured interviews fall between a fully structured, quantitative
approach and an unstructured qualitative approach (May, 1993). The assessment
toolkit provided a structured guide to interviews, and the information provided
by external environmental and ecological experts was used as data (Spenceley,
2003a).
In 1999, the Seventh Commission on Sustainable Development called upon the
tourism industry to, ‘...promote sustainable tourism development in order to
increase the benefits from the tourism resources for the population...andmain-
tain the...environmental integrity of the host community’ (CSD, 1999). This
emphasis highlighted the importance of determining whether the environ-
mental integrity of the local area was indeed maintained in light of neighbouring
nature-based tourism.
Field assistants from each of the four local communities were trained and paid
to carry out structured interviews with members of their village regarding envi-
ronmental issues, in order to:
ensure that interviews were carried out in local languages with culturally
specific phrases;
avoid problems with low literacy levels;
maximise the number of community interviews that could be undertaken
during the study period; and
avoid culturally specific investigator bias (Myrdal, 1973).
Structured questionnaires were written in English and were developed to ensure
that the questions were simply and carefully phrased with uniformly accepted
meanings; were not ambiguous; were not leading (Hay, 2000); avoided dual-
meaning statements (Wilkinson, 2000); and were necessary to include within
the assessment (e.g. the questionnaires were no longer than they had to be).
Training of the field assistants addressed interview techniques that promoted
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the collection of standardised and unbiased data, sampling techniques and
confidentiality. All interviewees participated anonymously and their names
were not recorded. The sample sizes of community members during each case
study are outlined in Table 5.
Between 2.4% and 5.5% of the local community populations participated in the
surveys, with roughly equal numbers of men and women represented.
Results
The results presented here focus on information obtained at the case study
sites regarding environmental issues. These data are drawn from a selection of
the 47 environmental factors that the Delphi consultees concurred were essential
to, or incompatible with, sustainable nature-based tourism. Due to space
constraints, only the most important environmental results with the most critical
implications for sustainability are described, while the economic and social
results will be reported elsewhere.
The factors are described here in relation to three levels:
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Table 5 Community members interviewed (Spenceley, 2003a)
Welverdiend Numbi Timbavati Huntingdon
Population
7000
(1996 census)
4130
(1996 census)
11,240
(1999 census)
6507
(1999 census)
No. interviewees (and proportion of the community surveyed)
168 (2.4%) 226 (5.5%) 314 (2.8%) 350 (5.4%)
Numbers of men and women interviewed
78 men, 90 women 119 men, 147 women 158 men, 156 women 164 men, 186 women
Ages
19–90 years
Average 44 years
18–90 years
Average 40 years
18–85 years
Average 44 years
18–80 years
Average 40 years
Levels of employment
18% sample
employed, 63% of
those employed
with salary <R1000
p/m
23% sample
employed, 78% of
those employed
with salary <R1000
p/m
36% sample
employed, 77% of
those employed with
salary <R1000 p/m
12% sample
employed, 35% of
those employed with
salary <R1000 p/m
Forms of employment within the sample
Teaching, retail,
transportation,
security,
housekeeping, and
maintenance
Teaching,
management,
catering, craft,
construction,
maintenance, and
agriculture
Retail, construction,
teaching, medicine,
security,
transportation, and
agriculture
Tourism, teaching,
construction, and
agriculture
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the context: regarding the wider environment; overarching policies and
frameworks; management practices by neighbouring landowners; collabora-
tion and conflicts; and environmental costs and benefits to local communities;
the land: in relation to the protected area that the enterprise operated within,
and details from management plans; management of water, flora and fauna;
infrastructure maintenance; and commercial activities; and
the enterprise: with regard to operational resource use and waste disposal.
While reviewing the results it may be useful to refer back to Table 4 for context.
Environmental context
Factors considered in relation to the environmental context of the enterprises
within their private nature reserves (PNRs) were:
overarching policies and plans, including those relating to land manage-
ment, development, and tourism; and
cooperation, conflicts and control of activities within the protected area.
Overarching policies and environmental management
Each of the enterprises based within PNRs were signatories to voluntary
constitutions that promoted the conservation of flora and fauna. These agree-
ments were needed because the majority of properties within the PNRs were
unfenced from one another, and therefore wildlife could move freely between
them. The parastatal South African National Parks (SANParks) managed the
land that two of the enterprises were based on, while the others managed their
land privately. The land around Ngala and Pretoriuskop was managed in line
with a detailed masterplan for KNP, which specified fire, water, elephant, recre-
ational zoning, and neighbouring community programmes. The location of
Ngala meant that under the constitution of the Timbavati PNR, consumptive
wildlife management activities took place on neighbouring properties. The
PNRs that Jackalberry and Sabi Sabi lay within had more fragmented environ-
mental management plans. Both the Thornybush Game Reserve (GR) and the
Sabi Sands Wildtuin actively managed wildlife populations over the entire
reserves, and set hunting quotas based on annual aerial surveys (although
neither enterprise hunted itself). The habitat management planning in the
Thornybush GR was divided into two sections in relation to the two land
management companies contracted by different landowners. There was cooper-
ation between the management parties and an increasing tendency to create
consistency between management efforts. However, the Sabi Sands Wildtuin
had no strategic environmental management plan and fragmented management
practices took place across the PNR. Essentially, each landowner within the Sabi
Sands Wildtuin independently employed their own land managers in order to
prioritise the management of their land. The majority of landowners focused on
maximising the game viewing potential on their own property, rather than stra-
tegically by improving the conservation value of the whole reserve. The
constitutions of the PNRs provided different limits on density of commercial
beds that could be operated by landowners in the PNRs, and in some cases the
number of vehicles (see Table 6).
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Cooperation and conflicts
Cooperation between PNR members consistently took place through formal
meetings and committees. Democratic processes, with different systems of
determining majority votes, were used to govern PNR issues – such as selecting
individual animals for off-take during hunting operations. The PNR constitu-
tions contained provisions for dealing with members who infringed their
obligations. Financial penalties could be imposed on members, in addition to the
last resort of fencing landowners out of the PNR (e.g. for gross misconduct).
Monitoring landowner activities within PNRs was undertaken by members
policing one another and also by the PNR wardens.
Factors that were considered in relation to the land and tourism management
context outside the protected area with members of rural communities were:
natural resource use;
human–wildlife conflict;
environmental education; and
perceptions of wildlife.
Natural resource use
There were a number of reports from neighbouring community members
interviewed that they had been able to access natural resources prior to the
creation of the four protected areas. The vast majority of community members
(between 61% and 97% of the samples) reported that they could currently access
some natural resources within the four protected areas. To different extents the
enterprises provided bush-cleared wood, thatch and grass to local community
members. There were formal mechanisms that allowed people from the Numbi
community to obtain a proportion of the natural resources and revenue gener-
ated from annual harvests of thatching material from their land within KNP.
Although they also wished to access river water, SANParks was concerned about
the potential for disease transmission between wildlife and domestic animals.
SANParks therefore arranged pumping and piping systems to divert water from
the river into the community (although this infrastructure was subsequently
destroyed by vandals).
Subsistence poaching occurred within all four protected areas at low levels,
and presumably this allowed some members of the communities to benefit by
obtaining meat from wildlife. The poachers used snares and dogs to hunt wild-
life, and in the case of Pretoriuskop the most common form of poaching
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Table 6 Enterprise land and tourism context (Spenceley, 2003a)
Ngala Pretoriuskop Jackalberry Sabi Sabi
Tourism development limits
Limits on bed
density (15 beds per
856 ha) and vehicle
density (2 per 856
ha)
Visitors limited by
gate day-visitor
limits and
accommodation
capacity at camps
Limit on bed
density (15 beds per
1000 ha)
Limit on
commercial bed
density (1 bed per
150 ha)
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encountered was, in fact, fishing! Anti-poaching patrols were operated around
all four enterprises – either organised by the PNR or the landowner concerned.
Wildlife managers used informers within neighbouring communities, and
informal communication forums with local tribal authorities, in attempts to
control the problems. Poaching of trophy species (e.g. elephant for their tusks;
rhinos for their horns) was rare in all four cases, although isolated incidences
were reported. Pretoriuskop maintained the most detailed reports of poaching
incursions, including the number of alleged poachers caught and their punish-
ment if they were found guilty in a court of law. Only in the case of Jackalberry
had antipoaching staff initiated active attempts to create a mutually beneficial
relationship with neighbouring tribal groups, and to develop incentives for
community policing.
Human–wildlife conflict
Between 31% and 56% of neighbouring community members interviewed
reported problems with wildlife from the protected areas. Problems included
elephants and baboons raiding their crops; lion and hyena killing livestock; and
disease transferred between wildlife and livestock (e.g. Theileriosis). There were
also isolated incidents reported where lion and leopard had attacked and killed
people. Interviewees indicated that the conflict did not appear to take place on a
daily basis, but that there were more frequent incidents of crop-raiding around
harvest times – obviously the most critical times for the poor people inhabiting
these communities. There was overwhelming agreement that there was no
compensation for damage to property or person inflicted by wildlife. Only a
handful of people reported that they had obtained money or meat as compensa-
tion.
Incidents of human–wildlife conflict are rarely compensated in South Africa,
because the law states that the land that it is situated on dictates the ownership of
wildlife. Therefore, wildlife leaving a park or reserve is no longer owned nor the
responsibility of that park or reserve. This means that landowners who ‘lose’
dangerous game, which then damage property in neighbouring communities,
are not legally obliged to compensate people for those damages. It should also be
noted that wildlife not only emanated from the enterprise properties studied, but
also from other nearby protected areas. This created some confusion over the
source of wildlife causing damage to local property, and was particularly true in
the case of Welverdiend (which bordered two other protected areas in addition
to Ngala).
Environmental education
Both the private- and public-sector enterprises engaged with local community
members to provide environmental education. Ngala channelled donations
from tourists and philanthropic institutions to provide academic bursaries,
conservation lessons, environmental debates, and educational weekend trips to
the reserve. In collaboration with the other landowners in the Thornybush GR,
Jackalberry funded conservation education for local children at a nearby envi-
ronmental centre, while Sabi Sabi supported the rehabilitation of existing
infrastructure to create a community environmental education centre and
library, using both donations and its own funds. The extent of enterprise assis-
tance depended upon the financial and human resource capacities of the
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enterprises, and their access to donations and support from other organisations
and individuals. Through the extended human resources capacity of KNP,
members of Numbi benefited from a variety of environmental education
programmes. These provided woodcarvers with ecological information
regarding the use of alien tree species for materials; assisted traditional healers
with seedlings and the establishment of a cultural centre; and provided courses,
workshops, projects and educational trips. Pretoriuskop itself has not promoted
these activities, but instead the Social Ecology department within KNP has
driven them independently.
Perceptions of wildlife
When asked about the net benefits and costs of living in proximity to wildlife,
the majority of local community members interviewed stated that the benefits
were not sufficient to offset their costs. Interviewees also made it clear that the
benefits were not sufficient to encourage conservation of wildlife or the
protected area in question. The majority of the benefits that were desired by the
community members were socioeconomic rather than environmental. They
desired employment, money, compensation for damages, more tourists and
improved communication with protected area stakeholders (see Table 7).
Land management
A series of factors were assessed in relation to the environmental management
activities and impacts of the tourism enterprises on their properties. The factors
considered were:
habitat management;
wildlife management;
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Table 7 Benefits and costs of wildlife (Spenceley, 2003a)
Welverdiend Numbi Timbavati Huntingdon
Are the benefits of tourism enough to make up for problems with wildlife?
No – 63% No – 74% No – 49% No – 80%
Are the benefits sufficient to encourage conservation of wildlife or the Protected
Area?
Not asked No – 81% No – 55% No – 17.1%
What would be required to encourage conservation of wildlife and the Protected Area?
Benefits shared
with communities
(21%)
Resources/money
(13%)
Development
projects (11%)
Employment (3%)
Employment (33%)
Money (32%)
More tourists in the
area (4%)
Compensation (9%)
Meetings and
discussion (9%)
More protection (7%)
Better opportunities
(6%)
Environmental
education (3%)
Compensation and
money (62%)
Employment (3%)
A committee to deal
with problems (3%)
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roads and access; and
control of commercial activities.
Habitat management
There was a stark difference between the habitat management activities
undertaken by the public and private sector. In the case of the public-sector
land around Pretoriuskop, a ‘natural’ regime was encouraged in relation to
bush clearing and fire management – although in the past both of these tools
had been used extensively throughout the park in an almost trial-and-error
experimental approach. Experience, and also the geographical scale of KNP,
meant that a low level of active management was perceived as viable for
biodiversity conservation. In contrast, the three private-sector enterprises
undertook more intensive habitat management (although Ngala to a lesser
extent). Aerial photographs from the 1940s and 1970s were used by the three
private-sector enterprises to indicate the extent of encroachment on grasslands
by woody vegetation. Land managers believed that historically unsustainable
livestock numbers, before the predominant land use had changed to wildlife,
had caused the encroachment. In all cases, regimes of fire management and
bush clearing took place, in addition to mowing of some areas around Sabi Sabi.
In each case maps were maintained to indicate where and when activities had
taken place. Fires caused naturally (e.g. by lightning strikes) were allowed to
run their course on the land around Ngala and Pretoriuskop, while human-
ignited fires were fought.
All four of the protected areas provided artificial sources of water for wildlife,
by pumping groundwater into pans and by constructing dams. Although this
practice was motivated to encourage increases in wildlife populations within a
semi-arid region, research in KNP had revealed that this strategy had led to
declines in sensitive species such as tsessebe, roan, sable and Lichenstein’s harte-
beest, with associated increases in wildebeest, zebra, elephant and buffalo
populations. Therefore, the 1997 water management plan for the park recom-
mended decommissioning some artificial water sites, while retaining others
along tourist roads for game viewing purposes. Water management within the
three private enterprises, however, continued to provide artificial water despite
the land manager’s appreciation of the negative ecological implications this
caused for species diversity. None of the enterprises had access to information
regarding groundwater aquifers that they pumped from to their artificial pans,
nor did they monitor volumes pumped. In addition, none employed strategies to
rotate water resources in order to encourage the movement of game between
different areas (and so reduce localised impacts). The financial pressure to create
good game viewing opportunities for guests appeared to be greater within the
private-sector enterprises than the public sector.
Wildlife management
All four enterprises actively promoted the conservation of wildlife on their
land and chose not to stock their properties with domestic livestock. The
Thornybush GR had translocated the majority of wildlife onto the reserve over
the previous decade, at major financial cost. All three PNRs set hunting quotas
annually for various species on the reserve, but Ngala and Sabi Sabi had chosen
not to use their quotas. The hunting quotas were set in relation to annual aerial
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wildlife counts and revenues generated from hunting in the Timbavati PNR
were used finance maintenance on the reserve. Culling of elephant had taken
place historically in KNP, but local and international public pressure had stopped
the activity. Instead, live translocations of species, including elephant and rhino,
took place to stock other protected areas and to reduce local populations. Trophy
hunting at Jackalberry was effectively arranged to cull over-populated species
and to generate revenue. In all four cases, limited culls of impala (a small, prolific
antelope) were permitted in order to provide staff with rations.
Breeding rare wildlife species took place at Pretoriuskop for tsessebe and
Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, while on the Sabi Sands sable were bred, and
reintroductions of locally endangered and extinct species took place. In the case
of Pretoriuskop, tourists colliding with wildlife as they drove carelessly on the
park’s tar roads caused some wildlife mortality. Despite KNP staff’s use of speed
traps and imposing fines, wildlife deaths still occurred.
Changes in wildlife behaviour were observed across all three protected
areas. In addition to the habituation of wildlife to vehicles – which facilitates
game viewing – primates consistently caused problems raiding waste food
from bins, damaging thatched roofs and vehicles. Even spotted hyena and
honey badgers were observed accessing food in bins and fridges. Management
strategies to deal with problematic primates involved both the translocation of
individual animals, and in serious cases euthanasia. In the case of Pretoriuskop,
behavioural change was also observed in amphibians that were observed
breeding prolifically in the chlorinated swimming pool rather than in natural
wetlands!
Roads and access
All four enterprises maintained roads on their properties in order to facilitate
access to different areas during the operation of game drives. The density of
game viewing roads varied from ~0.5 km per km2around Pretoriuskop to ~6.9
km per km2around Sabi Sabi. The extent to which the roads were managed
varied in relation to the level of financing and control that enterprises had over
the management. In the case of Ngala, considerable levels of sheet and gully
erosion had allegedly been caused by limited and poorly timed road mainte-
nance. Due to contractual omissions, lease fees paid by Ngala to the landowner
for use of the reserve were not used to finance land management activities
undertaken by SANParks. These contractual oversights between the land-
owner and KNP not only affected the ecological quality of the land, but also had
implications for the quality of experience for guests and the cost of maintaining
vehicles.
Historically poorly placed roads on Jackalberry and Sabi Sabi’s land had led to
the need for extensive civil engineering to stabilise and rehabilitate eroded areas.
Some roads were closed, rerouted and rehabilitated in cases where they had
crossed seeplines or sodic areas. In all four cases, gravel and sand were taken
from quarries and rivers within the protected areas to provide substrate for road
maintenance.
Control of commercial activities
Predominantly, the commercial activities operated at the enterprises for tour-
ists were non-consumptive photographic game drives, with optional bush walks
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and bush barbeques. In the case of Pretoriuskop, self-drive visitors mostly
undertook the tours themselves, although escorted safari drives with trained
guides were available at extra cost. The three private-sector enterprises operated
guided safari tours and visitors were not permitted to take unescorted tours of
the reserves. The types of activities undertaken within these areas of high
biodiversity, and the potential danger of working with African wildlife, had led
to the development of various codes, rules and guidelines for staff and tourists at
the enterprises.
The guides at Ngala and Sabi Sabi undertook intensive in-house training with
probationary periods before they were permitted to escort tourists on game
drives or walks. During these periods they learned about safety for both people
and wildlife at sightings, and how to minimise their impacts on the environment.
Jackalberry’s guides had at least to hold the minimum nationally recognised
qualification before they could undertake game drives. At all three private enter-
prises, guides received codes of conduct and rules that they had to adhere to.
Off-road driving was permitted in these cases for the purpose of viewing specific
charismatic species of wildlife (e.g. lion and leopard) within certain environ-
mental parameters. For example, driving off-road in wet conditions or over
sensitive soils was not permitted, and serious penalties were enforced upon
those who did not adhere to the rules. At Pretoriuskop, no off-road driving was
permitted by self-drive tourists or staff, and both were required to abide by park
rules that were publicly displayed. Guides monitored one another’s behaviour in
the PNRs, while volunteers and park staff reported any infringements of park
rules around Pretoriuskop. At Pretoriuskop, guides were trained to the highest
national standard before they were permitted to undertake bush walks, although
students training for national conservation diplomas could escort guests on less
dangerous game drives. Visual environmental interpretation material was avail-
able for tourists at Pretoriuskop and Sabi Sabi, with information regarding local
wildlife, management and research activities.
Environmental management within the enterprise
Although Ngala and Sabi Sabi were in the process of developing internal
Environmental Management Systems, neither Pretoriuskop nor Jackalberry
had addressed the environmental performance of their hospitality establish-
ment in a systematic way. The following activities were assessed at the four
enterprises:
energy use;
water consumption;
waste disposal (wet and solid); and
purchasing activities.
Energy use
Three of the enterprises used electricity from the national grid to supply the
majority of their energy needs. The electricity used was generated at coal-
burning power stations, and therefore its use had associated environmental
costs. The amount of electricity used and the associated pollutants created were
calculated for each enterprise and related to the number of commercial bed/
nights (see Table 8). This indicated that Pretoriuskop and Sabi Sabi consumed
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roughly the same amounts of electricity in relation to the number of commercial
bed/nights, while Jackalberry had more than five times their comparative
consumption. In addition to electricity, the enterprises also used diesel and
petrol for vehicles, paraffin for lighting, gas and charcoal for cooking, and wood
for ambient fires. Pretoriuskop, Jackalberry and Sabi Sabi used solar power to
electrify their fences. At Ngala, solar power had been discarded as an option for
major power supply, due to the amount of power required to operate the camp.
Ngala used a diesel generator for power, but at the time of assessment proposals
had been made to connect the camp to the national electricity grid instead.
There was limited use of natural light in the architecture at the enterprises. All
four establishments used a mixture of incandescent light bulbs ranging from
60W to 150W, and one of the lodges at Sabi Sabi was supplied with low-energy
bulbs throughout. Office areas were generally lit by lower-wattage fluorescent
strip lighting, and there were isolated occurrences of low-energy bulbs at Ngala,
Pretoriuskop and Jackalberry. Two enterprises noted that although they had
attempted to use low-energy bulbs, their fluctuating power supplies caused the
expensive bulbs to fail relatively quickly. One of the enterprises left the lights in
guest accommodation on constantly for aesthetic reasons, even when guests
were not there.
The climate, and the demands of their international guests, meant that all four
enterprises had installed air conditioning units in the guest rooms. In some cases
air conditioning was left on constantly, and some air conditioning units were
poorly maintained, which needlessly increased their energy consumption.
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Table 8 Enterprise resource consumption estimates (Spenceley, 2003a)
Ngala Pretoriuskop Jackalberry Sabi Sabi
Energy consumption estimates
Diesel generator
used 255–292 kilo
litres diesel p/a or
~16–19 litres per
bed/night
~2118 MWh grid
electricity p/a or 17
kWh per bed/night
~370 MWh grid
electricity p/a or
101 kWh per bed/
night
~561 MWh grid
electricity p/a or
16.7 kWh per bed/
night
Associated annual
pollutant creation of
~1800 tonnes CO2,
17 tonnes SO2, and
17.5 tonnes NOx.
Associated annual
pollutant creation of
~330 tonnes CO2,3
tonnes SO2, and 1.4
tonnes NOx
Associated annual
pollutant creation of
~477 tonnes CO2,
4.4 tonnes SO2, and
2 tonnes NOx.
Water consumption estimates
~ 31,280 m3p/a or
2.0 m3per bed/
night
~ 44,640 m3p/a or
0.4 m3per bed/
night
~ 4380 m3p/a or 1.2
m3per bed/night
~ 54,000 m3p/a or
1.6 m3per bed/
night
Of 83.3 million m3
falling on the
reserve p/a, this
equated to ~0.04%
of available water.
Of 447.6 million m3
falling on region p/
a, this equated to
0.008% of available
water.
Of 28.4 million m3
falling on reserve p/
a, this equated to
~0.02% of available
water.
Of 20.8 million m3
falling on reserve p/
a, this equated to
~0.03% of available
water.
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Laundry took place on-site at Ngala, Pretoriuskop and Jackalberry, while Sabi
Sabi outsourced this service to a local sub-contractor. The private sector enter-
prises changed linen daily and would wash towels between once and four times
a day. Although the management of one enterprise stipulated that its policy was
to change linen every two days, when dirty, or when new guests arrived, house-
keeping staff actually changed all linen daily regardless. Active use of energy-
expensive washing machines, tumble dryers and isolated use of washing lines
for ‘free’ drying were observed during the assessments. Pretoriuskop made
communal laundry equipment available to self-drive tourists, and enterprise
staff changed accommodation linen every other day, or when new guests
arrived. Hot water geysers at the enterprises were set at between 50°C and 60°C
throughout the enterprises, and in general each guest room had its own geyser.
Energy was used to pump water from groundwater through boreholes at Ngala
and Sabi Sabi, and was extracted from rivers in the cases of Pretoriuskop and Sabi
Sabi. Pretoriuskop needed to pump its water from a river over 37 km away,
which required a great deal of energy.
Pretoriuskop sold petrol, diesel, wood and charcoal to self-drive tourists.
Wood for ambient fires was predominately sourced from bush-clearing opera-
tions, flood damage and alien species. However, Ngala collected indigenous
dead wood from the reserve on a regular basis to stock fires. All four enterprises
used rechargeable batteries in radios used by staff.
None of the enterprises evaluated the number of ‘air miles’ used by guests to
reach the tourist enterprise, nor did they try to offset the associated carbon
dioxide emissions through carbon-neutral schemes.
Water consumption
None of the enterprises practised any form of water conservation, either
through limiting use, setting guidelines or targets to reduce consumption, or
practising environmental awareness for staff and guests. This was especially
interesting given the high water-pumping costs incurred by Pretoriuskop to
obtain water from a river 37 km away.
In general, the enterprises had installed nine-litre toilet cisterns, which were
sometimes set to lower flush volumes (e.g. six litres in the case of Jackalberry),
but no dual-flush systems were observed. None of the taps or showerheads at the
enterprises had low-flow water-saving attachments. Two of the enterprises
noted that the high levels of calcium carbonate in the water led to serious ‘fur-
ring’ of pipes and water-saving devices, and that they were therefore impractical
to use. All rooms at Ngala and Sabi Sabi had baths in guest rooms, while they
were fitted in only isolated suites at Pretoriuskop and Jackalberry.
Communal swimming pools were installed at all four enterprises, and one of
the lodges at Sabi Sabi provided each guest room with an individual pool. All
pools were chlorinated, save one saline pool at Jackalberry, and none used covers
for pools to reduce evaporation when they were not in use.
The lawns and plants in landscaping schemes around the enterprises were
watered regularly. The best water-saving system for irrigation was found at
Jackalberry, where sprinklers were used for two hours in the late afternoon (to
minimise evaporation) on six cycles of 15 minutes (to improve infiltration).
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Sabi Sabi only permitted lawns to be watered once a week, and all enterprises
promoted the use of native, low-water consumption species in their plantings.
Only Pretoriuskop formally monitored the volumes of water it pumped from
its source. Although water meters were installed on some of the boreholes at one
of the enterprises, not all were functioning. Meter readings had been taken for a
period of time when a couple of enthusiastic staff members had promoted moni-
toring, but this activity had ceased once the individuals left the enterprise. The
quality of water used for human consumption was tested at all of the enterprises
on a monthly basis. The volumes of water use by the enterprises were estimated
and equated to the amount of precipitation on the enterprise property and the
number of commercial beds as benchmarks (see Table 8). The public-sector enter-
prise had the lowest estimated consumption per bed night, while it appeared that
Ngala had the highest relative level of use.
Solid waste
All four enterprises operated recycling schemes and separated their waste
glass, steel and tin. Considerable investment had been made in the cases of Ngala
and Sabi Sabi to set up recycling centres that were wildlife proof. Recyclables
were either taken to a central recycling depot by enterprise staff (a commu-
nity-run depot in the case of Sabi Sabi) or were collected by external agents.
Members of staff at Ngala and Sabi Sabi had jobs dedicated to the sorting of
waste. The Timbavati PNR policy dictated that all solid waste should be removed
from the reserve. However, the external recycling plant used by Ngala had
ceased operating for commercial reasons, which meant that there was no further
incentive for the enterprise to sort its waste. The remoteness of Ngala meant that
the transport costs to remove waste from the reserve were not covered by
revenue generated by the recyclables sold. Local farmers in Welverdiend and
Huntingdon collected food waste from Ngala and Sabi Sabi respectively, for use
as fodder for their pigs. Waste oil was stored and collected for recycling at Ngala,
Pretoriuskop and Sabi Sabi.
Each of the enterprises had an incinerator to dispose of additional card and
plastic waste, but none of these had air filters attached, nor was any air-quality
monitoring implemented. Only the incinerator at Pretoriuskop was clay brick
lined, which heated waste up to 800°C in order to completely combust waste. The
other three enterprises either simply dried and burned non-recyclable waste in
an open pit, or adapted old oil drums for use as incinerators, without insulation
or temperature monitoring. In all four cases, ash leftover from incineration was
landfilled. Landfill pits within the protected areas were covered over with
topsoil and left to revegetate after use.
Only Sabi Sabi had worked with its suppliers in order to reduce the amount of
packaging that came into the reserve with the materials it purchased – and in
some cases they returned packaging to suppliers. The other enterprises tended to
buy in bulk where possible and therefore reduce the packaging and transporta-
tion required to obtain goods. Purchasing concentrated detergents and using
refillable containers were also strategies employed at Ngala and Sabi Sabi.
Only Pretoriuskop quantified the volumes of waste produced and recycled.
Here it was estimated that ~120,450 kg (or ~1314 m3) waste was collected annu-
ally and 24% of this was glass that could be recycled, and 14% was recyclable steel
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or tin. This waste equated to just under 1 kg of waste per bed/night. However, no
targets were set to reduce the volumes of waste created.
Wet waste
Ngala, Pretoriuskop and Sabi Sabi had constructed wetland wastewater puri-
fication systems in different designs in order to treat grey- and black-water
waste. The reed beds at Pretoriuskop were the most heavily engineered, with a
series of six evaporation ponds and two reed beds constructed. The septic tanks
and wetlands at Sabi Sabi had been carefully designed to treat wastewater to
such an extent that it could effectively be recycled back to the environment.
Monthly water-quality testing at Pretoriuskop and Sabi Sabi permitted the
release of treated water back into natural wetlands. The artificial wetland at
Ngala was observed in a poor state of repair during the assessment, and electric
fencing that had been used to keep game out had been damaged. Sabi Sabi
purchased biodegradable detergents and soaps (including guest soaps and
shampoos) in order that harsh chemicals would not adversely impact on the
natural purification process. Artificial wetlands are preferable to chemical treat-
ment plants because they require little maintenance, no chemical inputs and no
electricity to operate. Jackalberry had the weakest sewage treatment system with
a series of French drains (or soak-aways), which due to the geology of the area
were not draining effectively.
Purchasing
The enterprises used their purchasing power to buy some local and environ-
mentally friendly products. Biodegradable soaps and detergents were
preferentially purchased at Ngala, Pretoriuskop and Sabi Sabi, while Pretoriuskop
ensured that KNP’s nature conservation department approved all chemical prod-
ucts. Enterprises preferentially purchased items from local suppliers (although the
quality, consistency and availability was often problematic), and also from histori-
cally disadvantaged people in the case of Pretoriuskop. Ngala also purchased
paper that had either been produced from sustainable forests or was recycled. This
enterprise also used chemicals that did not bio-accumulate in its pest control
programmes (e.g. for pest rodents and mosquitoes).
Discussion
The environmental results described for the four enterprises can be used to
evaluate their environmental sustainability, and also to extrapolate lessons
regarding best practice in nature-based tourism operations.
Environmental context
Comparisons made between the four enterprises made it clear that the exis-
tence and application of strategic environmental and development management
plans promoted sustainable use. Overarching policies and plans reduced the
fragmentation of approaches in relation to habitat management, while allowing
coherent management of migratory wildlife to be applied. Cooperation on wild-
life and habitat management between landowners promoted sustainable and
strategic environmental management, while penalties applied by neighbours for
infringements within a democratic process provided control and conflict resolu-
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tion mechanisms. Cooperation was motivated by enlightened self-interest in the
private-sector cases, where they could benefit from larger populations of wildlife
ranging over larger geographical areas if they remained unfenced from their
neighbours.
Limited natural resources were provided to local people from the enterprises,
and therefore it was perhaps inevitable in the light of conflict with wildlife that
subsistence poaching occurred, that the majority of community members did not
think that the protected areas or tourism compensated them for their costs.
Although environmental education programmes were beneficial to local people,
it was clear that they required more economic benefits such as jobs, money and
compensation, coupled with better communication between themselves and the
protected area. Given the need for protected areas to engage with local commu-
nities, and to provide benefits that encourage conservation, it was clear that the
well-motivated efforts of the four enterprises had not been sufficient to induce
favourable perceptions of wildlife. Improving this perception and providing
tangible benefits to the rural poor must be achieved if this form of land use is to be
sustainable, and if levels of poaching are to be reduced.
Land management
The case studies highlighted that there was little formal planning of the envi-
ronmental management. A key factor in the sustainable environmental manage-
ment of habitats was the ability to control and finance activities. Habitat
management practices, in relation to the use of fire, bush clearing, mowing or
laissez-faire approach,were inconsistent between the enterprises. Since the
private-sector enterprises did not monitor the ecological impacts of their activi-
ties in the long term it was not possible to say whether their activities promoted
or detracted from environmental sustainability. The use of aerial photographs to
guide management activities would only be ‘best practice’ if they were used in
the context of the pressures that were prevalent at the time when they were
taken, and in relation to changed circumstances. Extended research in KNP and
the geographical extent of the park promoted a more hands-off management
system. All of the enterprises provided artificial water for wildlife. According to
research in KNP, this had been to the detriment of some herbivores and had
benefited others, and so had skewed natural wildlife populations and species
dynamics. Although KNP’s policy towards artificial water had changed over
time, all of the enterprises maintained too much water on their land – with no
strategic or practical mechanisms to deal with the problem. The trade-off
between conserving biodiversity and providing game-viewing opportunities for
tourists was clear.
Consumptive utilisation of wildlife appeared to be sustainable at the four
enterprises, with hunting quotas for meat and trophies set in relation to popula-
tion counts from aerial censuses, and controlled through the use of penalties
when infringements were identified. Political pressure, public perceptions and
consumer demand influenced individual enterprise’s hunting and culling activi-
ties. Although changes in wildlife behaviour were observed, it is difficult to say
from the data collected whether this negatively impacted upon the survivorship
of the species concerned, save in obvious cases where problem animals were
euthanased.
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Although the relative densities of roads were evaluated around the enter-
prises, there was no information available to determine at what level road
coverage became unsustainable, given the absence of baseline information, or
research addressing the impacts of roads and small-scale fragmentation on sensi-
tive flora and fauna. Appropriate planning of the construction and placement of
roads (in addition to their regular maintenance) was required to minimise
erosion. Maintaining good quality roads improved the game drive experience
for tourists, while the density of roads constituted a trade-off between accessing
areas of the reserve while fragmenting habitats and removing vegetation to
construct them.
In the cases where guides escorted tourists on photographic safari tours, it was
clear that training coupled with rules, guidelines and monitoring promoted
sensitive and sustainable tourism activities. However, the lack of systematic
long-term ecological monitoring of the impacts of tourism activities (e.g. off-road
driving) left the practice open to debate regarding its sustainability. Where
self-drive tourists undertook their own tours, policing and control of adherence
to rules was also necessary, although not infallible. In all cases, the key motiva-
tions behind training, rules and enforcement were improving the quality of
experience for guests, minimising adverse impacts on the environment, and
reducing risks of working in dangerous environments.
Environmental management within the enterprise
Little action was taken by any of the enterprises to reduce their energy expen-
diture or their water consumption, despite the financial and pollutant savings
that would have been made. Energy was ultimately sourced from non-renew-
able fossil fuels, while use of renewable resources was not monitored (as in the
case of wood) or limited (in the case of solar power). Active promotion of
low-energy light bulbs; the use of natural lighting and cooling systems; and
water-saving technology would have reduced the financial and environmental
costs of energy and water use at the enterprises. The use of more appropriate and
sensitive laundry programmes, and reducing the temperature on water geysers
to between 46°C and 49°C, would have also saved energy. Programmes to eval-
uate and offset the production of carbon dioxide associated with guest flights
and safari drives would also have promoted the sustainability of the activities on
a global scale.
All enterprises operated recycling systems, within the constraints of local
commercial capacity to deal with waste glass and steel. The donation of waste
food to local pig farmers showed innovative reuse of waste, with knock-on socio-
economic benefits for poor people. However, the incineration and landfill
activities for other waste materials were inevitably polluting, and not imple-
mented in line with best practice standards. Only one enterprise measured the
volumes of waste produced, while only one other was working with suppliers to
reduce the levels of packaging brought into the reserve.
However, efforts made to remediate grey- and black-waste water were more
encouraging in cases where enterprises had established artificial wetlands and
were monitoring the quality of remediated water. Effectively, these enterprises
were sustainably recycling their waste water, with minimal energy inputs, to an
extent that water could be reintegrated into local habitats.
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Conclusions
This paper has described a variety of different responsible strategies that
have been used by four nature-based tourism enterprises in South Africa to
promote long-term environmental sustainability. The paper has highlighted
areas regarding the context, land and enterprise management that impact on the
natural environment at local and global levels, and which have been addressed
by enterprises with varying degrees of success.
The most important implication of this work for other researchers has been the
production of the SUNTAT. The SUNTAT is unusual because it evolved in
southern Africa, rather than in the academic environments of industrialised
nations in Europe or North America, where the majority of sustainable tourism
research takes place (Tosun, 2001). The toolkit’s contents were based on the
results of a regional consultation process to ensure that it would evaluate
sustainable tourism within the context of value systems of those involved
(Butler, 1998). Environmental assessment techniques within the toolkit appreci-
ated the need for baseline information from which incremental change could be
identified and measured (Butler, 1996). The SUNTAT integrated valuable
concepts from process- and performance-based Environmental Management
Systems, Strategic Environmental Assessment, Environmental Impact Assess-
ment, and visitor management approaches (Spenceley, 2003a). Databases within
the toolkit allow assessors to quantify and monitor the levels of water use, energy
consumption, and waste production. Links between the environmental impacts
of tourism and commercial characteristics of operational tourism enterprises
were also forged, by providing tools that linked occupancy and consumption
levels (Spenceley, 2003a).
Recognising the multitude of ways that nature-based tourism enterprises can
impact on the environment highlights the need for detailed assessments that do
not simply define the ‘sustainability’ or ‘unsustainability’ of the overall enter-
prise. Not only is this impossible, it is counterproductive with respect to
encouraging responsible business practices. Therefore, the toolkit does not aim
to pseudo-quantify environmental impacts to provide a relative ‘score’ of
sustainability. Instead the toolkit appreciates the complexity of sustainable
development as a goal which tourism should strive to achieve, rather than it
being an inherent characteristic of its activity (Clarke, 1997). Therefore, the
toolkit culminates in a summarised list of considerations that contribute to, or
detract from, sustainable nature-based tourism. This is supplemented with an
‘action summary’ that is completed by the assessor and an enterprise representa-
tive to prioritise responses, organisational issues, cost implications, and set
targets and progress review dates (Spenceley, 2003a).
Enterprises clearly require information and support in driving and main-
taining environmental best practices – information that empowers them with
sufficient information to make decisions, such as the range of technologies and
techniques available, and also the relative financial and environmental costs and
benefits of different options. Researchers should consider the application of
locally appropriate grey literature such as the Responsible Tourism Manual in
South Africa (Spenceley et al., 2002), and international sources of information
such as the Conservation International/Tour Operators Initiative A Practical
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Guide to Good Practice (Sweeting & Sweeting, 2003) to promote best environ-
mental practice in destinations.
With little comparable baseline data from other nature-based tourism enter-
prises with which to compare the relative environmental costs and benefits, it has
not been possible to evaluate how the performance these establishments
compares with other similar businesses. Potentially, the widespread uptake and
implementation of the Responsible Tourism Guidelines for South Africa (DEAT,
2002) and the SUNTAT (Spenceley, 2003a) could address this shortfall, and begin
to address the cumulative impact of environmentally sensitive best practices –
rather than the currently observed isolated and fragmented efforts. This might
also allow enterprises to exploit the increasing market demand for environmen-
tally sustainable holidays by transparently reporting on their efforts to reduce
their environmental impacts.
The toolkit provides a basis from which other researchers may quantify and
measure the component factors of sustainable tourism. Application of the
evolving toolkit during the case studies produced comparable baseline informa-
tion from enterprises concerning the economic, environmental and social facets
of sustainable tourism. Researchers may now go beyond simply defining
sustainable tourism, and begin to tangibly and transparently measure its charac-
teristics in a reliable and comparable way. By developing a database of economic,
environmental, and social benchmarks relevant to sustainability, the SUNTAT
may be used as a mechanism for the tourism industry to develop baseline stan-
dards and improve the level of performance.
Finally, it is critical to indicate the limitations of this study in light of the holistic
nature of sustainable development. As mentioned earlier, sustainability is not
only dependent upon the appropriate application of ‘environmentally friendly’
activities, but it must also address economic, social and cultural sustainability. In
the case of the four enterprises documented, these aspects were assessed and are
reported elsewhere (Spenceley, 2003a). The sustainability of nature-based
tourism must also be aligned to the strategic political and planning frameworks
of particular countries or localities to promote sustainable development. Appli-
cation of the SUNTAT may assist governments and the private sector in
achieving obligations made towards implementing international conventions,
including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Commission on
Sustainable Development. The toolkit addresses major themes that were priori-
tised at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 with regard to
forging linkages between poverty, the environment and use of natural resources
(UN/DESA, 2002). The SUNTAT is therefore highly relevant to the current inter-
national agenda on sustainable development.
Acknowledgements
Many thanks to the managers and staff of Ngala, Pretoriuskop, Jackalberry
Lodge and Sabi Sabi, members of the rural communities who agreed to partici-
pate, and especially Louis Hlabane and Johannes Moreko. Thanks also to Dr
Harold Goodwin at the International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT), to
Angela Scott at the Institute of Natural Resources, and Dr Trevor Hill at the
University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. The Leverhulme Trust generously
Environmentally Sustainable Nature-based Tourism
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funded this research, which was in part used towards a doctorate from the ICRT
at the University of Greenwich.
Correspondence
Any correspondence should be directed to Dr Anna Spenceley, Transboundary
Protected Areas Research Initiative, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag
X3, 2050, South Africa (annaspenceley@hotmail.com).
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... Another way to apply environmental sustainability is to understand environmental impacts, such as human impacts on natural values through tourism, but also on the environment (Knight & Gutzwiller, 1995;Mathieson & Wall, 1982;Sharpley, 2006). Spenceley (2005) found that there are four different characteristics of tourism development that need to be considered in terms of environmental sustainability: 1) tourism consists of many related activities, which makes it difficult to distinguish between causes and effects; ...
Thesis
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Thesis
Full-text available
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... Performances of pro-sustainable Citt aslow destination Performance is a multidimensional conception, it can be explained interchangeably with quality in hospitality and tourism areas Oliver, 1997). Previous research explored the performances of differing tourism products covering heritage tourism, community-based tourism, nature-based tourism, foraging tourism, and cruise tourism etc., and these kinds of tourism research are tightly integrated with sustainable tourism (De Jong & Varley, 2018;Han, Eom et al., 2019;Hritz & Cecil, 2008;Peng & Tzeng, 2019;Spenceley, 2005). Indeed, a sustainable tourism model has been widely considered as a productive approach to optimize destination performance while achieving the protection of ecological environment, tradition, and cultural heritage (Castellani & Sala, 2010). ...
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Chapter
As recent studies show, tourists increasingly favour hotels and other tourism businesses that adopt more environmentally sustainable practices. A tourism depends on and significantly impacts cultural heritage and local communities’ well-being, sociocultural sustainability also plays a significant role on tourists’ decisions. Despite this trend, price is still the main determinant factor in tourists’ choices, and most sustainable practices tend to add operational costs, and consequently, make services more expensive. In this context, more than knowing which sustainable practices are valued the most by tourists, it is important to know how much they are willing to pay a premium price to visit destinations where those practices are carried out. In this context, the present study aimed to explore the dimensions of willingness to pay for sustainability in tourism destinations and the sustainability attitudes that might affect them. Additionally, as previous studies suggest young travellers attribute a greater value to sustainability, differences between age groups were also explored. To this end, data were collected through a survey questionnaire (n = 562) with Portuguese tourists. The questionnaire included 16 willingness to pay items and 22 sustainability attitude items. The results point to two main willingness to pay dimensions and four sustainability attitude factors. Moreover, a higher willingness to pay for environmental and sociocultural sustainability, as well as higher levels of pro-environmental private behaviour, was found amongst younger travellers. The findings offer useful insights for destination managers, which must consider them when planning and promoting innovative tourism products based on nature and cultural heritage.
Chapter
In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the UN General Assembly on 5 September 2015, 17 targets were set in line with the Sustainable Development Targets. In this study, the Sustainable Development Goal 15 (SDG15)—protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss—is discussed within the framework of the tourism sector. The study aims to propose a sustainable tourism vision and policy in line with the SDG 15. The study suggests the development of ecological tourism, which is a sustainable tourism vision, in line with SDGs.
Book
This book brings together interdisciplinary perspectives with the aim of broadening understandings of poverty. It contains both empirical and conceptual chapters, including those by local researchers, on a range of topics highlighting the relationship between poverty and sustainability. It cover themes such as: changes in the environment that pose an existential risk to humans; new concepts in tourism development that consider it as one of the key contributors in the prosperity and well-being of all stakeholders; natural, social and economic aspects of human behaviour and environmental sustainability; the impact of global warming on human well-being; immigration and integration policies and analyses of public discourse on migrants; and overconsumption and its impact on sustainable development. It will be a helpful resource for students and researchers of environmental management, tourism, global justice and sustainable development. Coming soon