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BACKPACKING: AN OPPORTUNITY FOR TOURISM DEVELOPMENT ?. Three Themes. Importance of Backpacker Tourism Patterns of Backpacker Tourism in South Africa Opportunities and Challenges for Developing Backpacker Tourism . Tourism in South Africa and Backpacker Tourism.

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Three Themes

  • Importance of Backpacker Tourism

  • Patterns of Backpacker Tourism in South Africa

  • Opportunities and Challenges for Developing Backpacker Tourism


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Tourism in South Africa and Backpacker Tourism

  • Traditionally tourism in South Africa has been marketed to attract low volume, high spend tourists.

  • Key attractions for this group of international tourists have been South Africa’s attractions of wildlife/natural beauty

  • Although post-1994 tourism growth in South Africa has been extremely positive, the focus on these markets has been seen as too narrow

  • South African Tourism is increasingly recognising the importance of diversifying the tourism mix and has identified (with DTI) a number of niche markets.

  • One of the key niche markets is backpacker tourism.



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KEY FEATURES OF BACKPACKER TOURISM

  • Mainly Youth travellers

  • Lower spend per day than typical tourist but longer length of visit.

  • Spend patterns often low on budget accommodation but higher spend on activities

  • Focus on meeting local people/local interaction/local culture

  • Travel more widely than typical international tourist

  • Classic backpacker trails in Southeast Asia

  • Australia and New Zealand major hotspots for backpacker tourism


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THE CASE FOR BACKPACKER TOURISM 1

  • Global market is growing

  • In destinations backpackers can be a positive developmental force.

  • Common images of backpackers as ‘hippies’ or ‘drifters’ with no spending power are false.

  • As average length of stay of backpackers is considerably greater than that of short stay international tourists, total average spend matches and, in many cases, exceeds that of long haul international tourist.

  • During times of perceived global uncertainty, backpacker flows are resilient


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THE CASE FOR BACKPACKER TOURISM 2

  • Positive job creation and other impacts for local economic development in peripheral areas, where other opportunities for development may be limited.

  • Geographical spend patterns have high local multiplier impacts

  • Greater opportunities for BEE and local community involvement than other segments of tourism.


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THE CASE FOR BACKPACKER TOURISM 3

  • Since the mid-1990s Australia and New Zealand have promoted backpacker tourism with very positive results.

  • Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Fiji also aggressively pursuing the backpacker market

  • Today’s low budget tourists are tomorrow’s high spend tourists


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THE CASE FOR BACKPACKER TOURISM 4

  • Experience of promoting backpacker tourism especially in the developing world has been positive

  • Lower economic leakage than with high –spend international tourism

  • Smaller amounts of capital needed to provide accommodation services (lodge vs hotel)

  • Higher potential for local ownership

  • Stronger linkages with local economy – backpackers demand local goods and services, use local restaurants/bars

  • Backpacking is a springboard for local SMME entrepreneurs.


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BACKPACKING IN SOUTH AFRICA: KEY FINDINGS FROM NATIONAL SURVEY

  • National survey undertaken for DTI study on backpacking as niche tourism.

  • Consumer surveys – 300 interviews with backpackers (defined as staying one night in a backpacker accommodation)

  • Product surveys – 125 interviews with suppliers of accommodation, travel and tour services, and adventure tour products


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KEY FEATURES OF BACKPACKER TOURISM IN SOUTH AFRICA SURVEY

  • From underdevelopment pre-1994 to post-1994 growth

  • Beginning in 1990s, expansion of network of backpacker enterprises, many by ‘developer tourists’

  • Important early role by Bazbus in expansion of industry, providing a national dedicated backpacker travel channel.

  • By 2006: 500-600 formal enterprises plus unknown number of informal sector enterprises

  • Typically small –scale opportunistic entrepreneurs with a segment of lifestyle entrepreneurs

  • Racially, dominated by white entrepreneurs with individual black entrepreneurs involved in townships (Soweto) or community owned enterprises with government support.




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KEY FEATURES SURVEY

  • Major focus for backpackers is Western Cape with Cape Town a popular ‘hotspot’ for its scenery, beaches.

  • Coastal areas/route are core attractions for backpackers in South Africa

  • Important to note that geographical spread of backpackers is more than international tourists as a whole.

  • Backpackers visit areas of South Africa that are ‘off the map’ of most international tourists.

  • Backpacker tourists contribute to a wider geographical dispersal of the benefits of a growing tourism economy than other groups of higher spend international visitors.

  • Backpacking is important in peripheral regions


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KEY FEATURES SURVEY

  • Size - approximately 90 000 international backpacker visitors, who spend at least one night in backpacker/hostel accommodation per trip

  • Share of backpackers in overall international tourism arrivals presently would represent less than 1 percent share, a signal of considerable future growth potential.

  • Backpacker industry is currently dominated by INTERNATIONAL rather than local backpackers (school, church groups)


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FINDINGS FROM CONSUMER SURVEY SURVEY

  • Demographics

  • Patterns of Travel

  • Spend, Activities

  • Likes/Dislikes


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DEMOGRAPHICS AND PROFILE SURVEY

  • Leading sources of Backpackers – 25 percent UK; 22 percent Australia; 13 percent USA; 9 percent Germany; 8 percent New Zealand; 6 percent Netherlands; 4 percent Canada.

  • Gender Profile: 49 Men; 51 Women

  • Average Age: 28 years

  • - 16-20 16 percent

  • -21-25 41 percent

  • -26-30 24 percent

  • -31-35 6 percent

  • -36-40 4 percent

  • - 41-50 5 percent

  • Over 50 3 percent


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DEMOGRAPHICS AND PROFILE SURVEY

  • Well-educated group – 68 percent with tertiary education and/or further postgraduate qualifications.

  • Diverse range of occupational categories- from IT, lawyers, health workers, civil servants, students.

  • Only 17 percent are on a gap year experience (taking year off work or studies) – generally those on round the world tickets

  • 80 percent are first time visitors to South Africa


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INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL SURVEY

  • 56 percent of international backpackers choose South Africa either as an exclusive destination or as a gateway in and out of Southern Africa.

  • 44 percent are travelling to other parts of the world either before or after their visit to South Africa

  • Most common destinations prior to arrival in South Africa are Central, East and Southern Africa South America and Europe.

  • Most common destinations after South Africa are South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and North America

  • It is significant that the time spent by travellers in South Africa is on average less than that allocated to other parts of the world; for Australia periods of 3-6 months and up to one year; for UK – 9 months for South East Asia – 2 months; for South America 2-3 months.


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INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL SURVEY

  • 5 percent of backpackers enter South Africa overland through Namibia or Botswana; 60 percent enter through Johannesburg and 35 percent through Cape Town.

  • Exit is 80 percent through Johannesburg, 15 percent Cape Town and 5 percent overland

  • Overall length of visa at 3 month holiday visa is not a problem

  • Those backpackers wishing to stay longer have not had a problem with visa extension

  • Only a tiny proportion have been in South Africa on legal income earning work (such as tour guides on overland tours, consultants)

  • But 71 percent of sample would be interested in taking up an opportunity to work here legally if given a Working Holiday Visa

  • Many others would like to have volunteer work opportunities more available or easier to access.


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WHY VISITING SOUTH AFRICA? SURVEY

  • Major reasons for choosing South Africa concern political and cultural history and “seeing something different”

  • Leading attractions were wildlife/safari, culture and history, leisure, volunteer work, VFR and adventure

  • Volunteer work includes internships or practical ‘study abroad’ in social work, medicine and conservation.

  • 83 percent were attracted to the country by its natural diversity (incl wild life)

  • Culture is rated by 79 percent of backpackers as VERY IMPORTANT or QUITE IMPORTANT in choosing South Africa as a destination

  • Interviewees emphasize the importance of learning about South African culture, history and politics and that in order to experience South Africa one must be able to spend time with and talk to local people removed from the typical tourism environment.

  • Backpackers want to meet local people in their everyday lives, enjoy local social scenes, taste local food, listen to local music and just talk to people.


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TIME SPENT IN SOUTH AFRICA SURVEY

  • Average Number of Nights is 48

  • Considerable variability:

  • BUT 60 percent of backpackers in South Africa are here for less than one month

  • 3-7 days 13%

  • 8-14 days 15%

  • 15-21 days 16 %

  • 22-31 days 16%

  • 32-90 days 25%’

  • 91-180 days 11 %

  • Over 6 months 4 %


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TIME SPENT IN SOUTH AFRICA SURVEY

  • Those spending longer than 3 months are mostly on volunteer work and these weight the length of average stay.

  • A large proportion of interviewees – 73 percent – cited that the time spent in South Africa was insufficient to see and do all the things that they wished to.

  • Time allocated to spend in South Africa versus other travel destinations is thus too limited for most backpackers

  • Only 13 percent cited lack of money as reason for limited travel in South Africa


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ACCOMMODATION IN SOUTH AFRICA SURVEY

  • Not all time spent in South Africa is at backpacker accommodation

  • Proportion of nights spent in backpackers:

  • - 100% = 30 percent

  • - 76-99 = 29 percent

  • - 51-75 = 9 percent

  • - 26-50 = 17 percent

  • - 1-25 = 15 percent

  • Average number of nights spent at backpackers 33.4 nights

  • Most common other forms of accommodation are camp sites, friends and relatives, lodges and hotels.

  • Reasons: VFR, comfort and convenience; part of a tour; volunteer worker staying with host family


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WHERE DO BACKPACKERS VISIT? SURVEY

  • Provinces most commonly visited: Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KZN, Gauteng and Mpumalanga

  • The South African ‘Outback” is Free State, Limpopo, Northern Cape, and North West, which attract minimal backpacker visits

  • Highlights of visit were stated as Cape Town, Kruger Park, meeting people, adventure activities, township tours, and apartheid museum.

  • Places highlighted that backpackers wished to spend more time or failed to visit are Garden Route, Cape Town, Drakensberg, Zululand, St Lucia, Durban and Wild Coast.

  • Reasons relate to not cost factors but time allocation on South African visit and awareness of ‘hot spots’ to visit.


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KEY BACKPACKER ACTIVITIES SURVEY

  • Top 10

  • Game viewing/safaris

  • Natural sights

  • Museums

  • Township Tour

  • Nightclubbing

  • Hiking

  • Historical Sights

  • Cultural Villages

  • Wine Tours

  • Surfing and other adventure sports


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SPENDING IN SOUTH AFRICA SURVEY

  • Average Total Spend per Backpacker is R12 726

  • Expenditure spread across a number of categories

  • - Accommodation R 2545

  • - Local Transport R 1647

  • - Activities R 2487

  • - Food R 1823

  • - Beverages R 1237

  • - Souvenirs and Shopping R 2987

  • BUT: 39 percent of backpackers pre-pay part of their visit

  • Average total of pre-paid expenditures is R4443 (largest cost for Kruger Park safaris).


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INTERNAL TRAVEL SURVEY

  • 52 percent arrived in South Africa with planned travel itineraries

  • But 21 percent made “significant changes” to those itineraries based upon personal reasons, recommendations made by other backpackers or locals, or desire to spend more time in a particular place

  • Travel within South Africa uses a variety of modes of transport

  • Only 28 percent of the sample used the Baz Bus

  • Of these only 52 percent rated its service as satisfactory

  • Reasons for dissatisfaction: inflexible and limiting in routes especially north of Port Elizabeth and Durban; expensive; often late and breaks down; poor information from driver about places en route; cramped.

  • Other key modes of internal travel : low cost domestic airlines, intercity bus; car rental – all these were more important than Baz Bus

  • Private car, minibus taxi and hostel organized transport are also more important modes than Bazbus.


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SAFETY AND CRIME SURVEY

  • 83 percent had heightened safety awareness during their visit to South Africa

  • 55 percent were ‘cautious’ with locals

  • 27 percent experienced petty theft, muggings, personal assault

  • 66 percent said their actions were different in South Africa to other countries they had visited

  • - not as ‘independent travellers’

  • - unable to use public transport

  • - carry very little cash

  • - restricted movement at night

  • - they end up “locked up’ in the backpackers

  • Overall, safety and crime limits the freedom for cultural interaction, one of the expressed major reasons for visiting South Africa


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ADVANTAGES OF SOUTH AFRICA AS A BACKPACKER DESTINATION SURVEY

  • Cheap accommodation

  • Great infrastructure of comfortable backpacker hostels

  • Lots to do

  • Warm, easy-going and friendly nature of people

  • Natural Beauty

  • Culture

  • Easy to travel (but channelled)

  • 94 percent of backpackers stated that they would recommend South Africa to friends as a backpacker destination; 6 percent complain of cost issues, “too Western feel” or “security”.


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DISADVANTAGES OF SOUTH AFRICA AS A BACKPACKER DESTINATION SURVEY

  • Crime

  • Perception of Crime

  • Cost/Expense of internal travel due to poor public transport and fear of crime which forces backpackers to take more expensive transport modes (rental cars, metered taxis)

  • Cultural villages were not functioning communities – staged authenticity.

  • “Tensions between White and Blacks. South African people always talk about the bad things that can happen to you if you go off the beaten track”

  • “South Africans complain TOO MUCH about the changes in South Africa. Please be more positive when you talk about your country to tourists. We love it. Why don’t you ?” (Norwegian backpacker)


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STRATEGIC PLANNING ISSUES SURVEY

  • From the results of the consumer survey and product interviews a number of specific key drivers of and barriers to the competitiveness of the South African backpacking industry can be identified.

  • Key issues for strategic planning and policy


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STRATEGIC PLANNING 1 SURVEY

  • Lack of official recognition by national government (until 2007) as a viable sector of South African tourism

  • Seen as part of ‘budget tourism’, backpacking and its impacts are misunderstood especially by sub-national tiers (province and municipal) of government

  • This lack of awareness extends across to local tourism associations, support organizations and banks.

  • Inadequate volume and strategic marketing of South Africa as backpacker tourism destination especially as compared to competing destinations.


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STRATEGIC PLANNING 2 SURVEY

  • Competitiveness of industry is affected by lack of opportunities for working holiday visas.

  • Since 2000 South Africa’s programme 30-40 visas a year, complex and costly procedures and restrictions on specific nature of work

  • Inadequate awareness and information of volunteer placement opportunities and study abroad opportunities in South Africa (especially for learning English).


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STRATEGIC PLANNING 3 SURVEY

  • Weakness of domestic backpacking industry – affected by hostility towards domestic backpackers in certain parts of the country, especially Western Cape.

  • Stakeholder Views on Domestic Backpackers

  • “We are open to South Africans but have to be selective about it due to crime linked to cheap rates” (Johannesburg)

  • “South Africans can be a bit pushy and opinionated when drunk” (Nelspruit)

  • “Prefer not to have South Africans as they cause trouble” (Bloemfontein)

  • “South Africans are not into the communal living of backpackers” (Port Edward).

  • “School groups are fine so is the occasional band and businessman. But you do get some unsavoury characters” (Johannesburg)

  • “South Africans are too much trouble” (Cape Town)


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STRATEGIC PLANNING 4 SURVEY

  • Until recently, the industry lacked a strong and effective industry association

  • Need to maintain existing high quality standards in industry (especially in accommodation) and address deficiencies in existing product offerings.

  • Inflexibility and pricing of Bazbus which enjoys monopoly (albeit under pressure from low cost carriers)

  • Major shortcomings in staged cultural products, canopy tours and poor night life.


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STRATEGIC PLANNING 5 SURVEY

  • Poor public transport and safety concerns in cities restrict and channel mobilities of backpackers

  • Industry suffers (in part due to image) from limited access to available finance for product upgrading and development of new products.

  • Limited number of black entrepreneurs – need to diversify the product platform

  • Lack of provincial and local development initiatives with the exception of the Eastern Cape.

  • Important potential role for local authorities to support backpacking but at present there is hostility and lack of understanding in many parts of the country


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STRATEGIC PLANNING 6 SURVEY

  • In some cases: absence of regulatory frameworks specific to needs of backpacking: in others, excessive ‘red tape’ for transport permits

  • Industry in peripheral regions suffers from regional development incentives bias towards manufacturing rather than tourism

  • Lack of regular research or monitoring


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OPPORTUNITIES FOR LOCAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SURVEY

  • The international experience shows that backpacking can have positive local economic impacts

  • Promotion of backpacking offers considerable opportunities for LED in South Africa.

  • Rol out of support programme for backpacking from DTI – increase local awareness of opportunities, improve marketing

  • Emerging local examples of good practice – Coffee Bay, Bulungula Lodge


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OPPORTUNITIES FOR LED SURVEY

  • BUT: A critical finding from the national interviews with stakeholders was the lack of understanding by local governments of the backpacking industry and thus the lack of awareness of its development possibilities.

  • Backpacking was not recognized or understood by local governments as a contributor to local development.

  • “Local governments need to be educated on the backpacking industry and how much they contribute to the local economy and uplifting of areas through community development programmes that many backpackers have” (Western Cape).

  • “Recognize backpacking as a separate form of tourism” (KwaZulu-Natal)

  • “Recognize backpacking in IDP and LED initiatives” (Eastern Cape)

  • “Recognition of backpacking industry as a viable tourism industry” (Eastern Cape and Gauteng).

  • Danger of Missed Opportunities


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TOWNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES FOR BACKPACKING SURVEY

  • Bed and Breakfasts in Soweto – average occupancy 8-10 percent

  • Market saturation

  • Lebo’s Backpacker Lodge – average occupancy 60 percent

  • Niche tourism works.


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