Sustainable tourism development in South African townships : a case study of Sobantu township in Pietermaritzburg.
Township tourism is one of the recognised ways in the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) white paper to include communities that were previously excluded from tourism. However, township tourism is non existent in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. This mini dissertation is an attempt to identify the tourism potential of Sobantu township in Pietermaritzburg in an effort to encourage development and empower the local community. The primary aims are therefore to identify tourist attractions in the township, to explore people's perceptions about tourism development and to suggest ways to link Sobantu to the established tourist destinations in the greater Pietermaritzburg area. A purposive sample of 48 respondents participated in the study. The respondents were sampled from youth organisations in Sobantu, school teachers, Pietermaritzburg Tourism, Indlovu Regional Council, community members and key people in South African Police services. Semi-structured, in depth interviews, questionnaires, focus groups and site visits were utilised as data gathering techniques based on five leading questions designed by the researcher and modified through the first two interviews used as a pilot study. Tourist attractions are examined from an ideographic perspective and a thematic approach is used to analyse peoples' perceptions. A SWOT analysis is used to explore possible linkages and to provide a clear analysis of the critical issues that need to be addressed as they could promote or hinder sustainable tourism development in the area. Results showed that the historical background, the political history, old red bricked buildings and the cultural experiences are the main tourist attractions in the township. The community has positive attitudes towards tourism development in the area and their perceptions are compatible with the principles of sustainable tourism development and the DEAT document. To overcome the identified obstacles and realize sustainable tourism development, several recommendations are made. These include, extensive tourism awareness campaigns, education and training of tour guides from the community, proper community structures and an effective marketing strategy.