Evaluation of EKZNW'S eco-cultural tourism marketing strategy for the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site.
Mchunu, Philisiwe Juliet.
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The uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site has significant value including the natural and cultural value such as the production of water, the wilderness and eco-cultural tourism. Situated in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, in South Africa, this 242 813 ha Park is a national and international asset. There are marketing activities carried out by Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife (EKZNW); however they are not park specific. Ezemvelo KwaZulu- Natal Wildlife has a number of parks under their management and uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site is one of these parks. The main aim of this study was to evaluate EKZNW’s current eco-cultural tourism marketing strategy for the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. This was done by achieving the following objectives:- 1. determine the ideal generic marketing strategy for a Protected Area specifically a World Heritage Site; 2. establish the current status of Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife marketing strategy for the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site; 3. conduct a comparative analysis between the ideal strategy and Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife’s actual strategy for uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site; 4. based on the comparative analysis, recommend marketing interventions to improve the eco-cultural tourism marketing strategy for uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. To fulfil these objectives the research methods used were qualitative in nature because of the type of investigation. Methods used to collect information included a literature review, structured and semi-structured face-to-face interviews, discussions, conducting a SWOT analysis and secondary data analysis. The SWOT analysis was formulated from the interviews but not as a workshop and it was part of the analysis. The results of the study show that the respondents have concerns regarding the marketing of the Site. Currently there is no written eco-cultural marketing strategy for uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. However marketing activities limited as they are, are being performed on an ad hoc basis. The Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife marketing department is too small (three staff) to handle the marketing of all Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife parks, resulting in uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site not getting the marketing attention it deserves as an international icon. Scarce resources coupled with internal conflicts, lack of marketing skills, insufficient gathering of marketing information and no external or industry marketing alliances has resulted in minimum marketing exposure for the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. The study concluded that marketing integration and collaboration with all relevant stakeholders is needed. Marketing objectives for the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site must be developed. Better profiling of current and potential visitors to maximise revenues is a priority for better future marketing decisions. The brand identity has to be maximised through collaboration with stakeholders and staff. This will lead to sustainable marketing of the Site which takes into consideration biodiversity conservation. This ensures that conservation objectives are not compromised.