Malaria risk in the Lubombo spatial development initiative area : a perceptual analysis and representation using geographical information systems.
Tourism is the world's largest earner of foreign currency. It brings an estimated R20 billion a year into the South African economy, second only to the manufacturing and mining industry in its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). An estimated 1.7 million overseas and African tourists visited South Africa in 1999. Of the 1.7 million approximately 500 000 or 30% of these tourists visited KwazuluNatal. Forty seven percent of the foreign tourists visited the Zululand and Maputaland area, which falls within a malaria transmission zone. An estimated 8 million domestic tourists from outside or within this province travelled to one or more destinations within KwaZulu-Natal on an annual basis. The Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative is a tri-Iateral initiative between the governments of Swaziland, Mozambique and South Africa to develop the Lubombo region into a globally competitive economic zone. The geographical area targeted by this initiative is broadly defined as eastem Swaziland, southem Mozambique and north-eastem KwaZulu-Natal. Accelerated development with regards to agriculture and tourism is the main objective of the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative (LSD!). The Lubombo corridor has the potential to develop into an intemational tourist destination but malaria is hampering the growth and development of the region. Perceived malaria risk by tourists is believed to be an important factor that has a negative influence on the tourism industry in the study area. The risk factor, as defined in this study, is the possibility of contracting malaria whilst visiting a tourism facility in the area. It is therefore essential to understand perceptions relating to malaria and malaria risk in the LSDI area. Malaria control plays a pivotal role in the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative (LSD!). The objective of the malaria control component of the LSDI is to put in place a malaria control programme that will protect the economic interest of the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative (LSD!) and stimulate development. Malaria control activities have been taking place in the three countries since 1999. Residual house spraying is the method used to control malaria in the Lubombo corridor. Major reductions in both malaria cases and parasite prevalence have been recorded. Swaziland's malaria incidence reduced by 64%, South Africa's malaria incidence plummeted by a staggering 76% and Mozambique saw a parasite prevalence reduction of40% in the first year of residual house spraying in 1999. This study focuses on the scientific study of malaria incidence and distribution as well as on both tourists and tourism operator's perceptions of malaria risk. It considers the factors that drive people's perceptions of risk and investigates how tourists and tourism operators respond to malaria risk. It draws conclusions about how malaria impacts on tourism in the LSDI and recommends how malaria control can play a positive role in tourism development in the area.
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