Environmental factors affecting tourists' experience in South African national parks

18 October 2013

This study, the first of its kind involving South African National Parks, aimed to determine which environmental factors in these parks have a negative effect on tourists’ experience, and whether tourists who visit parks frequently are more aware of environmental impacts than those who visit only occasionally. The findings will help to inform South African National Parks (SANParks) management about the impacts of tourism in the parks and how these affect tourists’ experience. Data was obtained from 451 questionnaires completed in a survey on the SANParks official website. A factor analysis identified five environmental factors that had a negative impact on tourists’ SANParks experience: pollution, tourism product offering, park violation, environmental management, and tourism impacts. An ANOVA test was then conducted to examine the relationship between the frequency of tourists’ visits and the effect of these factors on their experience. It was found that the more frequent the visits, the more the environmental impacts of tourism were perceived. These findings should help to develop management strategies to reduce negative nature-based experiences.