Overtourism in Southern Africa

In the last decade, the phenomenon of overtourism has received an increasing amount of attention, particularly in public media, with a strong focus on European cities. The role of tourism as a predominantly positive force for economic development has now been scrutinised more seriously due to some of its foreseen and unforeseen consequences. In particular in southern Africa, tourism has for long been promoted as a panacea for economic development of local communities and to protect nature (in Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana and many other places). However, despite some benefits for local populations, it has now become clear that this market mechanism for development has often not delivered the initial expectations. Nonetheless, tourism has also grown tremendously on the African continent and today some areas are even advertised as places where you should not go during particular times (e.g. The Kruger National Park, South Africa). I would be interested to discuss a possible BSc/MSc thesis project in which the growth of tourism in Africa is centralised, and what the consequences of this growth means from a social, economic and environmental point of view. I have a particular interest in southern Africa, but if you want to study this in another area, for example East Africa, we can of course discuss further. Core questions are: what does the growth of tourism in (southern) Africa look like from a time and space perspective? Has the growth of tourism in (southern) Africa delivered its initial promises? Why (not)? And where is this growth going? Are there any options for ‘de-growth’? If so, what are these and why would this be necessary? What are current and future developments to be expected in the development of tourism in (southern) Africa? Are there places in Africa to that we can consider ‘overtouristified’? Et cetera.

Overtourism and nature

In the last decade, the phenomenon of overtourism has received an increasing amount of attention, particularly in public media, with a strong focus on European cities. This attention has predominantly focused on urban tourism, in which cities like Venice, Dubrovnik, Barcelona or Amsterdam experience various negative consequences due to an overflow of the amount of tourists that these cities can handle. So far, natural spaces are often left out of these discussions, although there are a few that have received attention (e.g. the island where the movie The Beach was made, and last year there was attention for mountaineers dying at the top of Mount Everest due to too many people). Still, the combination between overtourism and nature is much less explored than overtourism and cities. If anybody would be interested in doing a BSc (or MSc) thesis on this connection, please contact me. Core questions could be: What are the environmental consequences of mass tourism in and around nature reserves? What are the social and economic consequences? How does tourism in natural areas spread in time and space? Et cetera. I have a geographical preference for Europe, but would be interested in other explorations too.

Contact and more information

If interested in both vacancies, please contact Stasja Koot from Sociology of Development and Change (SDC), stasja.koot@wur.nl, stasjakoot.com for more information. In order to secure supervision for these thesis, book an intake with the education coordinator.


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