Tourism impact, distribution and development: The spatial structure of tourism in the Western Cape province of South Africa

Cornelissen S. (2005)


The structural dimensions of a country's tourism sector, and in particular the spatial structure of tourism production and consumption, relate closely to the nature and extent of the impact that tourism can have. This article examines the spatial characteristics of tourism in the Western Cape province, one of South Africa's foremost international tourist regions, and where its government seeks to use tourism as an instrument of development and socio-economic transformation. To understand how this could be effected it is necessary to understand the spatial distributional effects of tourism, and the underlying reasons for it. To this end the article examines the spatial structure of the provincial accommodation sector as evidenced in patterns of accommodation supply and tourist usage (demand); and trends in the nature, direction and distribution of public and private-sector tourism investments. The central argument is that tourism is geographically focused, with tourist activities concentrated in a few locales and sub-regions. This follows the general demographic and economic contours of the province. Yet trends in capital investments tend to reinforce the spatial concentration of tourism. Attempts by the govemment to spread tourism's benefits have not been too successful due to institutional and capacity deficiencies. Greater emphasis should be placed on developing domestic tourism. © 2005 Development Bank of Southern Africa.

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