Ecology, Economy and Empowerment: Eco-Tourism and the Game Lodge Industry in South Africa
An extensive game lodge industry operates across Southern Africa. Many of these lodges market themselves as 'eco-tourism destinations' where wildlife protection, community development and the maintenance of bio-diversity are supposed to be central values of the business model. This article deals with the tensions that arise for the management of such enterprises between a multiplicity of local and global interests around land use pertaining to conflicting motivations of profitability and capital-intensive development, protection of bio-diversity and enabling community empowerment. The article illustrates the interplay between these competing interests, preferences and claims surrounding the use to which the land these lodges occupy is used. It examines a set of cases in South Africa with special reference to the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve.
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