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Title: Environmental vulnerability and the economic implications of climate change for tourism development in the Central Drakensberg Region [CDR] of KwaZulu-Natal
Authors: Ngxongo, Nduduzo Andrias 
Keywords: Climate change;Tourism development;Economic implications;Environmental vulnerability
Issue Date: Sep-2021
BACKGROUND AND AIM: In spite of the substantial amount of research that has been conducted in
the last decade, misconceptions about the impacts particularly at a local level still abound. This study
aimed to determine the extent to which climate change affected the environmental and economic facets
of the Central Drakensberg Region [CDR] and the potential impacts these changes have had on the
tourism industry. The tourism industry and the activities associated with it are highly weather-dependent
and by extension, climate-dependent. Hence in recent times, there has been a growing concern over the
impacts of climate change on the development of tourism. In South Africa, climate change is becoming
more evident, causing flooding and extreme temperature and weather patterns. Likewise, Africa is
widely considered to be highly vulnerable to climate change mainly because of its strong economic
dependency on climate-related activities, destitute climate literacy and low adaptive capacity. The
CDR, which is an increasingly popular tourist destination, is particularly vulnerable to the long-term
impacts of climate change.
METHODOLOGY: The spatial setting of this research was the CDR, located in KwaZulu-Natal
(KZN). The study fused two sampling techniques under the auspices of the non-probability sample
method, namely: purposive and convenience sampling. The study's target population was N=450, thus
a sample size of n=350 was determined appropriate. The respondents were categorized into two groups:
namely experts [local municipality and tourism authorities] and stakeholders [tourists and/or visitors].
A quantitative research approach was employed with an exploratory paradigm design. The data
collected was analysed using the latest Statistical Package for the Social Science (Version 25.0) at the
RESULTS: The primary findings revealed that the tourism industry in the CDR is at tremendous risk,
particularly sensitive, significantly exposed, with minimal mitigation and adaptation mechanisms.
Likewise, climate change in the area has a substantial impact on investment opportunities, long-term
sustainability of protected species, habitats, and the tourism industry. In the absence of adaptation and
mitigation, climate change is already having a detrimental economic impact on the region’s growth and
development prospects.
CONCLUSION: An integrated model was developed based on the aforementioned findings and is
expected to be beneficial to tourism organizations and/or authorities in dealing with the devastating
effects of climate change. Therefore, it is imperative that necessary provisions for impact adaptations
and mitigations are implemented promptly, and that endeavors to develop a robust and multi-purpose
adaptation strategy are prioritised.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Future research is recommended on the implementation of a Climate
Services (CS) Framework, which is a technique that can be applied to strengthen decision-making
processes to better prepare and acclimatize to the risks and impacts of changing climatic conditions.
Likewise, the study recommends swift remedial actions and/or corrective measures in the form of
climate change adaptation and mitigation models, Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), and climate
change education and awareness.
Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Hospitality and Tourism, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2021.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Management Sciences)

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