There has been a very rapid expansion in the number of people involved in the tourism industry over the last 5 years in the Little Karoo. There is consequently an increasing emphasis on the potential of tourism to support sustainable development in the region. There is however very little information on the region’s emerging tourism market. Most provincial and national studies tend to group the Little Karoo with the Garden Route which has a very different economic and environmental character. 

 AfrikaBurn is a South African version of the Burning Man festival, held annually at Black Rock, Nevada, USA. AfrikaBurn is a participatory explosion of creativity, art, and innovation, which arises for a week on a remote desert floor in the Tankwa Karoo. 

The necessity for the protection of the Square Kilometre Array (“SKA”) against certain levels of radio frequency interferance or any activity which may detrimentally impact on radio astronomy and related scientific endeavours, has led to the declaration of areas…

Concern has been expressed by many about the possible visual effect of shale gas development (SGD) on the character of the Karoo landscape, its sense of place and on tourism in the area. Further reference to these concerns is covered in Chapter 9 on tourism (Toerien et al., 2016), Chapter 11 on social fabric (Atkinson, et al., 2016) and Chapter 13 on sense of place values (Seeliger et al., 2016) of this scientific assessment report. SGD activities could affect scenic resources, the amenity value of recreation and resort areas, property values and subsequently the economy of the region, an aspect covered in Chapter 10 on economics (Van Zyl et al., 2016). Taking these concerns into account, the importance of visual, aesthetic and scenic considerations is stressed in Section 14.1.


This document, as well as the full CSIR report can be accessed at

It is more meaningful to speak of senses of place in the Karoo rather than to attempt to define a single sense of place for the Karoo. This does not mean that all senses of place are equally valid or that any sense of place is justifiable within all contexts. Senses of place are often shared by people who either live in a place, or those who value it as a destination for work or holidays or who view it from an outsider’s perspective. Some senses of place may have greater legitimacy than others. They may be regarded to have more value because they are shared by a greater number of people or potentially create value for a larger number of people. Others have more impact because it is the majority view of the people who own land and/or pay taxes and still others carry more weight because they are compatible with a diversity of certain perspectives.


This document, as well as the full CSIR report can be accessed at

Experience indicates that mining and tourism invariably end up in conflict with each other. The impacts of shale gas development (SGD) in the study area might, therefore, result in risks for its tourism sector.

The tourism sector in the study area is important. Currently it houses about 830 enterprises, the most of any business sector. It employs between 10 100 and 16 400 people and annually adds between R2.3 billion and R 2.7 billion (2010 Rand) to the regional gross value added (GVA). The tourism sector in the study area has diversified considerably in recent years, which has dispersed tourism activities throughout the study area, also into the rural areas. Some towns of the study area have much stronger tourism sectors than others and their sensitivity to impacts is probably higher. Consequently locations with very high sensitivity are distinguished from those with high sensitivity and those with medium sensitivity.


Accompanied by an Appendix (click here).

This document, as well as the full CSIR report can be accessed at

 Culinary mapping and tourism development in South Africa’s Karoo region,  GE du Rand, Ingrid Booysen, Doreen Atkinson,African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Vol. 5 (4) – (2016).


Successful development of cuisine as a niche tourism product has been portrayed in various countries in the world. The paper argues that the Karoo provides evidence of a substantial culinary resource base and an established local food identity. This, in turn, can be promoted as a tourism destination by means of culinary mapping. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tools are used, supported by a culinary database with information compiled from various sources in literature, the internet, lifestyle magazines, recipe books, census data and tourism structures. A proposed culinary route/itinerary synthesizes the data, identifying authentic food experiences as a niche tourism product, based on a regional cuisine.

Keywords: Culinary mapping, cuisine tourism, local food identity, regional cuisine, Karoo.


Click here to download

For more tourism-related articles, see

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.

Free access to this article available until 25 February 2016: Click here

This study focuses on regional economic development in South Africa, across provincial political jurisdictions. The article argues that remote hinterlands can be more usefully understood as forming an integrated whole, rather than functioning as the poor rural cousins of their provincial metropoles. This article considers three propositions: that key transport projects (such as airports) may unlock regional development; that this may stimulate regional spatial integration; and that this may spur the South African government to address its weak regional planning system. All three propositions are speculative, drawn from the international literature, but they contribute to an argument for greater spatial coherence in South African planning in rural regions. The argument is illustrated with reference to the Karoo region of South Africa, and the potential of a new airport to impact on regional economic dynamics. Furthermore, the article argues that such impacts will require new regional planning systems, which are currently absent from the South African political system.


Ingle, M (2010), “Making the Most of ‘Nothing’: Astro-tourism, the Sublime, and the Karoo as a ‘space destination’”, Transformation 74:87-111.

In recent years perceptions of South Africa’s arid Karoo have been radically transformed. Whereas the Karoo was once regarded as a desolate wasteland, it is now being punted as a positively trendy region, both to live in and to explore. Many enterprising niche tourism operators have positioned themselves to profit from this phenomenon. This article briefly articulates the concept of ‘the Sublime’ and shows how the nexus of cognitive associations suggested by ‘space’ and ‘nothingness’ is being harnessed to rebrand the Karoo as a dynamic and desirable destination. The paper also reflects on how these developments might redound to the benefit of local communities and flags some of the tensions occasioned by the intrusion of tourism into a relatively undeveloped region.


Item can be purchased here: