Academic journal article African Studies Review

Tourism in the New South Africa: Social Responsibility and the Tourist Experience

Academic journal article African Studies Review

Tourism in the New South Africa: Social Responsibility and the Tourist Experience

Article excerpt

Garth Allen and Frank Brennan. Tourism in the New South Africa: Social Responsibility and the Tourist Experience. London: Tauris, 2004. x + 305 pp. Maps. Bibliography. Index. $29.95. Paper.

Tourism, as we all know, is the world's largest industry, and eco-tourism is the fastest growing segment of that industry. It is possible that "community-based" eco-tourism is the fastest growing subset of that segment-"the prefix eco confirms an aura of respectability that is only marginally less admirable than motherhood" (5). Further, South Africa has quickly become what is arguably the most outstanding tourist destination in subSaharan Africa. Therefore, it is both timely and important to understand how much tourism has to offer in South Africa's quest for growth with equity. This useful study helps in many ways.

Why was it written? The authors argue that they wrote it, "in the conviction that, despite limitations, eco-tourism can make significant contributions to the welfare of many impoverished rural communities" (4). Yet they concede that "the data offers no evidence that the tourism industry is a 'pro-poor' industry, benefiting past or current members of the poorest paid social groups.... There is no evidence that tourism in any general sense had a major income and wealth redistribution effect on the economy, although the status of some individuals and their families have been fundamentally altered" (15). They could have done more to try to solve this contradiction.

The book begins by providing a background of the importance of tourism in South Africa's economy in general, then moves on to examine eco-tourism specifically in four areas of rural KwaZulu-Natal, in the southeastern part of the country. …

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