The development of Lilani Hot Springs : an analysis of socio-economic and environmental impacts.
Tourism development in remote areas of South Africa is often being proposed as the solution to poor rural communities' development needs. However, experience indicates that tourism development can result in a negative impact on a community's culture and way of life. The issue of sustainable development and what it means sets a base in which the research looked at tourism in rural areas. The case study on the impact ofthe redevelopment ofLilani Hot Springs as a tourist resort focusses on both the people and environment. The historical context ofthe hot springs, their discovery, development and the demise ofthe old resort is investigated. This was undertaken so that lessons learnt from the past can be taken into consideration with the future development of the resort. This study has included investigating the viability and sustainability of such a tourist resort in the Umvoti Magisterial District and in a rural environment. By focussing on the Lilani community, this research project explores the key factors which have been identified as essential if long-term sustainable tourism is to be achieved in remote rural communities. An appropriate planning approach which stresses local participation and decision-making within the context of a holistic strategy for community development is subsequently proposed. Tourism has the potential ofprotecting the environment while providing social and economic benefits to the local communities. Clearly ifthe socio-economic needs ofthe local community in which a tourism development is set are not addressed, it will not succeed but ifthe natural environment, which is the very asset on which the tourism development is dependent upon, is not protected the resource which is the source of attracting tourists will be destroyed.