Achieving local economic development through natural resource-based tourism in KwaZulu-Natal.
A number of development strategies and programmes are currently being explored in South Africa as a part of a renewed ihitiative to overcome the imbalances persisting from the apartheid era with respect to development, wealth, income and opportunity, and in order to address problems increasing unemployment brought on by the decline of traditional employment sectors. Local Economic Development (LED) is one such strategy that seeks to utilize local resources and skills in order to promote economic growth and create employment opportunities. Similarly, tourism, which has become one of the most critical forces shaping the world's economy, has been recognised as a potential growth alternative in South Africa, and is being increasingly implemented into LED strategies across the country. Although the studies that have identified the link between tourism and LED are increasing, it is clear that research on the topic remains limited. This research therefore contributes to the existing literature, and investigates how three localities in Kwazulu-Natal have identified the tourism potential of the locally available natural resources, and how different actors have embarked on tourism-based projects that have sought to achieve LED. A series of semi-structured interviews formed the principle research method and information was obtained over a period of a year from a number of key stakeholders and role-players in each case study. It was found that all three case studies have created employment opportunities and have empowered local communities through skills development and training. This research attempts to highlight the potential opportunities and limitations of the pursuit of natural resource-based tourism as a catalyst for local economic development, such that other localities that are seeking to adopt a similar approach may learn from these experiences.
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