Is South Africa’s Great Karoo Region becoming a tourism destination?, Doreen Atkinson, Journal of Arid Environments, vol. 127, April 2016.
Desert tourism has grown steadily in several regions of the world, due to a post-modern fascination with remoteness, barrenness, silence and solitude. This paper evaluates the trend towards tourism development in South Africa’s arid Karoo region. It utilises several methodologies – analysis of discourse, demand and supply – to track the changing profile of tourism in the Great Karoo. The paper concludes that the reputation of the Karoo has shifted profoundly from being hostile, dangerous and boring to being attractive, enticing and spiritual. At the same time, tourists are increasingly expressing favourable opinions of the Karoo as a destination, while accommodation facilities are growing apace. The overview also finds that tourism services in some Karoo towns are developing at a much faster rate than others, so the tourism performance is uneven. A survey of tourists in the Karoo found that the arid environment and small-town ambience offer significant attractions, and Karoo guest houses have a positive outlook for the future. These findings suggest that the Great Karoo is indeed in the process of becoming a tourism destination.
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