Community participation and tourism development in KwaZulu-Natal : a case study of the Didima Resort and the Umhlwazini community, Drakensberg
Ngxongo, Nduduzo Andrias
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This thesis discusses the concept of community participation and tourism development in KwaZulu-Natal using a case study of the Didima Resort and Umhlwazini community in Bergville, Drakensberg. In order to examine the research topic, the thesis scrutinizes the following key concepts: community participation in tourism development; tourism development initiatives for the local community of Umhlwazini; and, the contribution of tourism development towards community enhancement. The research was guided by four research objectives: (1) To investigate the level of understanding and awareness that the Umhlwazini community have regarding tourism development and the importance of community participation; (2) To investigate whether there is active community participation and whether there are tourism development initiatives or practices the resort authority is offering to the local community; (3) To ascertain strategies employed by Didima Resort to encourage maximum participation of communities for development of tourism at Umhlwazini; and, (4) To identify problems that hinder the community's participation in tourism development at Umhlwazini. The outcomes from the interviews indicate that the majority of the Umhlwazini community members are willing and interested in participating in the development of the tourism initiatives happening at Didima Resort and within their community. Currently, the community's participation in tourism development in their area is predominantly at the level of temporary jobs which are occasionally offered to unskilled labour. Work opportunities for skilled workers are non-existent so that not even a single member from the community is part of the Didima Resort management team. Recommendations arising from the study include but are not limited to the following: There must be a vigorous, selfless and mutual cooperation between the following role players; Amangwane Traditional Council, Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife (Didima), Ingonyama Trust, Okhahlamba local municipality and the community of Umhlwazini. This association will ensure that the interests of the community are taken into account and that the community is part and parcel of any tourism development projects taking place in the Umhlwazini area. There is an obligation for community enhancement programs such as tourism awareness campaigns and tourism seminars in the Umhlwazini community. Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife (EKZNW) must put more effort into advertising and promoting community products such as bicycle hire and handcraft work. That effort can increase the visibility and sales of such community products. Community problems appear to be more noticeable than benefits. Some of the problems identified are: the lack of jobs from Didima Resort; no improvement in the infrastructure of the community; local artistic talent is not utilised during mega events happening at Didima. The lack of tourism awareness and education was identified as two main causal factors that impede community participation in tourism development, as well as the breakdown of communication between Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife and Umhlwazini leadership (traditional council and contemporary political councillor). According to the outcomes derived from analysis of the data from interviews, this research study concludes that local community members desire to play an active role in the tourism development process of Didima and Umhlwazini. In general, community members want to see decisions about tourism development in their area made co-operatively by Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife, Okhahlamba municipality and local leaders (Amangwane Traditional Council) in consultation with the local community of Umhlwazini. They also want to be recipients of tourism benefits and want transparency regarding the community levy fund which is meant to support community projects. This research study further concludes that there is great potential for community participation in tourism development initiatives at Umhlwazini community and Didima Resort. There are various tourism opportunities for the community which can be explored including a traditional restaurant and a cultural village which would benefit the community immensely. The community of Umhlwazini needs to be empowered with knowledge, business skills and financial assistance to start business ventures. It is only when the local community benefits financially that their participation in tourism development will become meaningful to them.