A Qualitative Assessment on How Cultural Villages Influence Tourism Development in South Africa

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Introduction

Tourism is a major contributor in South Africa’s resources. Government is now more focusing on tourism and its attractiveness mainly lies in cultural diversity. Attractiveness included cultural villages, museums and cites of rock art. Among these, cultural villages have been part of the cultural landscape for many years and hence they have been developed to be a tourist attraction by government in recent days (South Africa’s official tourism website 2012). The villages combine many cultural factors including dress, dance, music, history, cuisine and architecture (Lubbe, 2003). To develop cultural villages as a sustainable tourism product, local government must identify the social cultural impacts. More importantly, government should investigate authenticity of the traditional cultural activities take place in the villages.

Many researchers have examined social cultural impacts of cultural tourism in different destinations with the help of tourism related models. Alhasanat (2008) cited that social cultural impacts are divided into three categories: positive consequences, negative consequences and no real social impacts. For instance, a previous study in Latvia found out the locals there noticed the positive consequences in a friendly and trusty way. In contrary, a study in Botswana found out opposite findings, which shows negative consequences such as increasing prostitution rates and extra use of alcohol by residents. Besides, a study in Hawaii found that the locals did not notice any specific impacts of tourism. However, these previous researches create some areas for improvement. First, most of them conducted research through the locals’ perception but fail to reflect the visitors’ perception on their experience in the cultural villages. Second, the results obtained from a global measure by using tourism theory models would not be always applicable when focus on one particular destination.

With this reason, the main purpose of this research is to examine the authenticity of traditional activities take place in the villages through visitors’ perception by using primary sources of data. Consideration will be given on how the authenticity of this tourism product links with tourism sustainability.

Literature review

In this study, the author would like to introduce four major concepts which are cultural tourism, guest-host relation, authenticity and sustainability. Theories and models being used from most researchers were only drawn from variety of tourism related theories and methodologies.

1. Definition of cultural tourism
The concepts of cultural tourism have been studied extensively by many researchers. According to Richards (1997), cultural tourism is defined as the movement of people to cultural attractions away from their original residential places. They seek to satisfy their cultural needs by gathering new information and experiences. Silberberg (1995) suggested cultural tourism as visits by people from outside the host communities, those who are motivated by interest in heritage, lifestyle or artistic of the destinations. World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) also gave a similar definition: movements of people for mainly cultural motivations such as travel to festivals, cultural events and visit to museums and historical sites. To synthesize the above definitions, it is concluded that cultural tourism is a movement of people who seek to experience the traditions and culture of the local destinations (Sigala & Leslie, 2005).

2. Guest-host relation (Interaction between hosts and guests) Cohen (1979) stated tourism as a social activity involves interaction between tourists and residents. While Richards (1997) suggested tourism is not only a contact between different backgrounds of tourists and residents but also the host communities. Smith (1995) agrees with Cohen and Richards, he suggested the interaction between the host communities and guests qualifies as a social...
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