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Tourism impact, distribution and development: The spatial structure of tourism in the Western Cape province of South Africa


  • Scarlett Cornelissen


The structural dimensions of a country's tourism sector, and in particular the spatial structure of tourism production and consumption, relate closely to the nature and extent of the impact that tourism can have. This article examines the spatial characteristics of tourism in the Western Cape province, one of South Africa's foremost international tourist regions, and where its government seeks to use tourism as an instrument of development and socio-economic transformation. To understand how this could be effected it is necessary to understand the spatial distributional effects of tourism, and the underlying reasons for it. To this end the article examines the spatial structure of the provincial accommodation sector as evidenced in patterns of accommodation supply and tourist usage (demand); and trends in the nature, direction and distribution of public and private-sector tourism investments. The central argument is that tourism is geographically focused, with tourist activities concentrated in a few locales and sub-regions. This follows the general demographic and economic contours of the province. Yet trends in capital investments tend to reinforce the spatial concentration of tourism. Attempts by the government to spread tourism's benefits have not been too successful due to institutional and capacity deficiencies. Greater emphasis should be placed on developing domestic tourism.

Suggested Citation

  • Scarlett Cornelissen, 2005. "Tourism impact, distribution and development: The spatial structure of tourism in the Western Cape province of South Africa," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(2), pages 163-185.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:22:y:2005:i:2:p:163-185
    DOI: 10.1080/03768350500163014

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    Cited by:

    1. Li, Hengyun & Chen, Jason Li & Li, Gang & Goh, Carey, 2016. "Tourism and regional income inequality: Evidence from China," Annals of Tourism Research, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 81-99.
    2. Booyens Irma & Rogerson Christian M., 2016. "Unpacking the geography of tourism innovation in Western Cape Province, South Africa," Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series, Sciendo, vol. 31(31), pages 19-36, March.

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