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III Strategies in Sustainability

The Urban-Rural Tourism Mix: A Partnership of Convenience or Sustainability Imperative

Acha-Anyi Paul Nkemngu[1]

Department of Tourism Management, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa


The city of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, commonly referred to as the City of Tshwane, houses the political capital of South Africa (Pretoria), but equally incorporates within its jurisdiction more than ten townships. This city/township divide does not bear the hallmarks of South Africa’s historic past of racial segregation (apartheid), but symbolizes the present status quo of economic imbalance. Government efforts aimed at correcting this imbalance have expanded since the dawn of the democratic dispensation in 1994. It is in this context that tourism presents itself as a possible solution to extend opportunities to local people, especially those previously disadvantaged. Tourism research has acknowledged the great potential of the tourism sector to serve as an engine for local economic development. This is substantiated by the tourism industry’s propensity to create jobs, generate incomes for local people and stimulate other subsidiary industries, especially small, micro and medium-sized entreprises. However, for such economic gains to materialize, the destination must, as a prerequisite, possess a rich variety of tourist attractions to pull and encourage the tourists to spend within the local economy. This chapter argues that while urban centres, such as the Pretoria Central Business District (CBD), generally attract a good number of tourists, this advantage should be extended to less developed communities (townships) that are in close proximity to the CBD. Through a quantitative survey of 401 tourists at various attractions in the Pretoria city centre, the study concludes that a good number of tourists to urban destinations are also attracted to tourism products in rural areas, notably because of the natural environment and cultural ‘authenticity’. Hence the study recommends that rural destinations be marketed in conjunction with their urban counterparts as this will be beneficial to the tourists, urban centres and rural areas as well.


The purpose of this chapter is to illustrate the potential benefits of the urban-rural mix for the tourism sector in general, and local communities in particular. This is embedded in the fact that even though many tourists enjoy the cosmopolitan attributes of city life, they equally admire the natural environment and the ‘authenticity’ of rural communities. It is in this light that this study explores the potential for a viable tourism mix between the city of Pretoria and the township of Soshanguve. The two communities fall within the jurisdiction of the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, with the difference that Pretoria lies in the CBD, while Soshanguve is about 25 km from the city centre. This, therefore, presents an ideal scenario to explore the possibility of a viable urban-rural tourism mix.

Research into the business and economic opportunities within the tourism sector has greatly increased over the past decade. Subsequently, tourism literature attests to various economic benefits from the industry, notably in job creation, foreign exchange earnings, the stimulation of local industries and general economic uplift (Hall et al., 2009; Mordue, 2009). Adopting a timeline perspective, Sebele (2010) purports that the community approach to development gained popularity in the 1950s and 1960s as it was deemed more effective in rural development. The success of the community approach to development was widely attributed to the active participation of local people acting towards their collective good and prosperity. Hence, advocacy for a more constructive and meaningful engagement of residents in developmental issues gained further impetus in the 1980s (Murphy, 1985; Muller and Jansson, 2007; Sin and Minca, 2014). Furthermore, Kauppila and Karjalainen (2012) assert that through their participation in tourism, communities also ensure the sustainability of the industry by taking practical steps to secure their long-term employment, developing positive attitudes towards tourists, ensuring the conservation of local resources, and protecting the ecological and physical environment. It is in the interest of enhancing the aforementioned benefits that this research goal was kindled; to explore the potential for a tourism symbiosis between the urban (CBD - Pretoria) and rural (Soshanguve) communities in the City of Tshwane.

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