To set the scene…The Travel Foundation recently formed a new partnership in South Africa with the Western Cape’s public conservation organisation, CapeNature. Research has been underway to determine how best new tourism developments in and around nature reserves can stimulate the green economy, contribute to conservation and benefit local residents.
Sustainable tourism, and especially that in conservation areas, has no set formula and we are seeking opportunities for creative tourism developments. Not wanting to be limited by business-as-usual, potential developments can range from indigenous natural products harvested by local communities to luxury eco-lodges. Given the diverse landscapes and wilderness of the nature reserves, including rugged mountains, bird mecca lagoons and vast tracts of the fynbos floral kingdom, we feel there is a natural inclination to adventure tourism that showcases what nature has to offer.
With the project in its initial phase, we’re going to pilot developing tourism products in five reserves. But who is deciding on what these developments are going to be? This is no easy task for one person! We’re generating ideas through in-person surveys with domestic and international tourists in the Western Cape, interviews with Cape Town’s most popular tour operators, destination management companies and adventure specialists, and participatory workshops with CapeNature tourism and conservation staff.
Analysis is still underway but sneak preview results suggest that developments may include a year-round multi-day mountain bike trail, a new range of crafts using mountain- and marine-harvested natural materials, and a specialised guided birding safari. This is an exciting start to novel tourism developments in the Western Cape’s nature reserves and I’m looking forward to how this tourism-conservation-development nexus unfolds.
Written by Jessica Lavelle, consultant working for the Travel Foundation in South Africa.
More on our work in South Africa here.
More on our partnership with CapeNature here.