Transforming Roles but not Reality? Private Sector and Community Involvement in Tourism and Forestry Development on the Wild Coast, South Africa

Published on 1 January 2003

This paper reviews the changing roles of private sector and local residents in tourism and forestry development, looking both at what is envisaged in policies and plans, and what is emerging. It seeks to unpack the driving forces behind both policies and practice, and to outline what the investment-led approach means in the Wild Coast.

It questions where the livelihood interests of the poor lie in these processes, and what factors strengthen or weaken their role. Currently, policy attention is focusing on wildlife, wilderness, tourism and forestry assets as opportunities for investment-led economic growth, in contrast to community based management of common property resources for household-level use.

This focus also contrasts with policy orientation in other countries in which wildlife and forestry issues tend to get left out of poverty and growth strategies, and are left to conservation departments. There are many, differing initiatives promoting different forms of commercial and pro-poor investment in tourism, wilderness and forestry.

The proposed approaches improve upon the past but have limitations: they are small-scale, poor implementation, capture, dependence on internal community dynamics, or reliance on an unchanged balance of power. None are a panacea, thus requiring a combination of approaches.

Commercial development based on some form of land reform is most likely to shift the locus of power towards the community, though is not without its own implementation problems. While investment in the agricultural economy and subsistence economy is important, it is hard to see an alternative approach to development of the non-farm economy at present.

Tourism and forestry are critical to the non-agricultural economy, and will depend on private sector investment to drive growth. It is not clear whether a viable private sector will emerge, nor, if it does, whether planned benefits to the poor will be as great as predicted.

Publication details

published by
Ashley, C and Ntshona, Z
SLSA Research Paper, issue 6


About this publication

South Africa

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