Print version ISSN 0075-6458
South African National Parks (SANParks) plays a major role in the tourism industry and has three primary functions, namely to conserve biodiversity, to create tourism and recreational opportunities and to build strong community relations. These parks, therefore, have a definite socio-economic impact on adjacent communities, although little is known about this impact. The main aim of this study was to determine the socio-economic impact of Africa's oldest marine park, namely Tsitsikamma National Park, which forms part of the newly created Garden Route National Park. This was done by conducting three surveys during April 2008: a visitor's survey (156 respondents), a community survey (132 respondents) and a business survey (11 respondents). We found that the park has a positive economic impact on the surrounding area and that the community exhibits a favourable attitude towards Tsitsikamma National Park. The results also differed when compared to similar studies conducted at other national parks in South Arica and one of the main reasons for this was that the park is located in a touristic area. For a greater impact however, the park should expand its marine activities, while communication with the local community could also be improved. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Good community relations and ecotourism activities are important components of good conservation practices. This research indicates that tourism activities not only generated funds for conservation, but also benefited the local communities of Tsitsikamma National Park. The positive attitude of local communities makes conservation of biodiversity more sustainable.
Keywords : community; marine tourism; national parks; partial multiplier modelling; regional economy; socio-economic impact; tourism.