The economic impact of tourism on the local community of Bergville
Mabaso, Simiso Lindokuhle
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Tourism is playing an increasingly important role in the local national economy. The outstanding beauty of the northern Drakensberg is a prime tourist attraction in KwaZulu-Natal, attracting a regular flow of tourists throughout the year (Drakensberg Tourism, 2007). The primary objective of this research is to investigate whether the benefits of tourism that are supposed to be reaped by the local community of Bergville, exist. If so, what are these benefits? There might be people from the local community, who are working within the tourism sector, but what are the types of jobs that they do, their level of job-satisfaction, and the extent to which they are able to earn a living from employment within the tourism sector? Do they have the necessary skills and training to allow them to make a successful career within sector? The White Paper on the Development and Promotion of Tourism (DEAT, 1996), states that with any tourism development in the local communities, local people should be involved in the decision making. They should be trained if they lack the necessary skills required to participate in that development. All these issues are relevant to Bergville as the region has a lot of tourism development, and it is a place that integrates tourism and conservation. The results and conclusions of this study are based on a sample of 307 members of the Bergville local community and 15 local tourism establishments including hotels, Bed and Breakfasts and community tourism organisations. The results suggest that tourism has a greater potential for job creation in the area, that the local community lack the requisite skills and understanding to fully reap the benefits that tourism can bring to their community and that the local tourism authority is not carrying out its mandate to support tourism in Bergville. Policy recommendations include greater collaboration amongst the community, the local tourism authorities and the private sector to promote Bergville as a prime tourism destination in the Drakensberg.