Barriers to visiting South Africa's national parks in the post-apartheid era: black South African perspectives from Soweto

Gareth Butler, Scott Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Almost 80% of South African citizens are of black African origin, yet are significantly underrepresented in numerous leisure activities and especially at national parks: they accounted for only 8.8% of visitors to South African parks’ recreational spaces in 2010/2011. A review of literature on this issue finds a series of research shortcomings. Using a sample of 466 respondents from Soweto (414 self-administered surveys and 52 in-depth interviews), this paper re-examines the significant barriers deterring black South Africans from visiting national parks. Economic impediments to travel were frequently reported but other previously ignored barriers emerged, including lack of paid holidays, leisure “immobilities” fostered under apartheid, transport issues, time constraints, and lack of understanding and knowledge of what to do in national parks. All maintain the perception of parks as unwelcome spaces for many black South Africans. While park management is now largely done by black South Africans, and valuable policy statements now exist, the problems remain. The paper suggests potential actions to reverse the common belief that national parks remain exclusive white South African domains, including deconstructing the parks’ historical relationship with oppression, better promotion, specialised tour development, and work with schools. Links are made to comparable situations elsewhere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-166
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • national parks
  • perceptions
  • post-colonialism
  • South Africa
  • tourism and race

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