The Question of Sustainability
When Ecotourism becomes Overtourism: The Example of the Kruger National Park, South Africa
Keywords:African national parks, ecotourism, Kruger National Park, overtourism
The Kruger National Park is the largest protected area in South Africa. The park was opened to tourists in 1927 at a time when private automobiles were becoming a feature of South African cities. Since 1927 there has been a 67,879-fold increase in tourists until 2019. The current number of tourists is 1.8 million exceeds that of any other savannah, wildlife-based national park in Africa by at least four-fold and poses the danger of overtourism. The total number of tourists that can be accommodated by accommodation within the Kruger National Park is 7400, which is high for an African national park. The paper examines historic tourist trends and the regional concentration of tourist facilities within the park. Due to its accessibility, the southern region, which comprises 21.9% of the park, receives 73.9% of tourists and has 32.9% of the 2,562-kilometre road network and 49.8% of tourist beds. A survey of members of a social media group found that 90.9% believe the southern region is overdeveloped. Open Safari Vehicles (OSVs) could be part of an Alternative Transportation Programme (ATP) as they transport an average of 5.9 tourists, compared to an average of 2.4 tourists per private automobile. A survey was conducted on the same social media site to ascertain attitudes towards OSVs, which now account for 16.7% of the park’s tourists. A total of 1,320 responses were recorded and 29.24% believed that OSV drivers have no regard for other park users, while others regarded these vehicles as an important contribution to park conservation and management.
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