On-line version ISSN 2071-0771
National parks in South Africa are seen as major tourism assets due to the wildlife and various activities for international and local visitors. Little is known of the socio-economic contribution of these parks to their respective local economies. The purpose of this research was to determine the socio-economic impact of the Karoo National Park (Karoo NP) in South Africa, especially the economic impact of the Karoo NP on the local economy, the impact of tourism business development in the Karoo district, and how the park affects the community. Three surveys were used to determine the socio-economic impact: a community survey, a business survey and a tourist survey. The results show that the park has an impact in terms of production, income generation and employment in the area, but this impact is not as significant as that of other national parks in South Africa. A small percentage (4%) of businesses in Beaufort West owe their existence to the Karoo NP, but most rely on tourist spending. For the park to have a greater impact, it is imperative to increase accommodation capacity, offer more activities and promote activities and attractions in the region. CONSERVATION IMPLICATION:The importance of this article lies in the economic value that conservation management generates as well as identifying the benefits that communities derive from the existence of a national park. It also supports the notion that conservation entails more than just conserving fauna and flora and highlights the interdependence of conservation, tourism and community participation.
Keywords : SANParks; South Africa; tourism; economic value; community perceptions.