The ecotourism potential of herpetofauna in the Namaqua National Park, South Africa

Loubser G.J.J. ; Mouton P.leF.N. ; Nel J.A.J. (2001)


Namaqualand, with its seasonal wild flower blooms, is a popular attraction for ecotourists, but in addition it is also home to the greatest diversity of snakes and lizards in South Africa. The present study explores the potential of herpetofauna as an additional ecotourism resource, complimenting the existing wild flower-based tourism. Tourist opinion was determined by means of questionnaires. Results from 880 respondents indicated that tourists visit Namaqualand predominantly to view the wild flowers, but as many as 67% of the respondents indicated that information on herpetofauna will add value to their experience of the area. Seventy-one percent of respondents saw lizards while looking at the flowers. They also indicated that the present supply of information is inadequate and that they are prepared to pay a reasonable price for brochures with quality information. The preferred method to receive information is in the form of brochures and an information centre. It was clear from the questionnaires that opportunities exist for cultural tourism to be developed and this should be explored. Our study is intended to assist with the planning and management of the newly proclaimed Namaqua National Park, and emphasizes the importance of supplying information on the fauna, flora and cultural aspects of the area. By supplying information and actively marketing herpetofauna of the area, the tourist season will be extended and diversified and the experience of ecotourists visiting the area, enhanced. In turn, increased public awareness of the herpetofauna will contribute to its conservation.

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