UKZN staffer Dr Mabuyi Gumede recently graduated with her PhD in Cultural and Heritage Tourism for research that investigated the extent to which the rural community of Nonoti Beach on the North Coast participates in coastal tourism taking place in their ancestral land.
‘During the apartheid era, this community was forcibly removed to make way for agriculture and the area was later identified for tourism development. After 1994, the first democratic government of South Africa prioritised the restoration of the displaced communities back to their land through land reform and redistribution, and the community under study is one of the communities that received land through the land claims process.’
‘Fourteen years after the settlement was made on this land claim in favour of the community, the government and other stakeholders with vested interest in coastal tourism have not delivered on the promise made to the local community to provide them with low cost housing and to develop a coastal resort to benefit this community through profit sharing and in other ways,’ said Gumede.
The findings of her study show that the various stakeholders’ interests are often times conflicting. She recommends that various stakeholders come up with a coordinated plan to create a balance between their conflicting interests for the benefit of the local coastal resources, the local community and the local cultures.
‘My study proves that the level of understanding of coastal tourism and associated benefits amongst the local community is limited, and as much as the land was restored back to the local community, they were not fully capacitated to live sustainably on this land. South Africa has adequate policies regulating coastal tourism and associated marine environments, but the greatest challenge lies with their implementation,’ she added.
Through Gumede’s PhD study, a model of local community participation is proposed based on the gaps that were identified in the existing community participation models as well as gaps in the policy regulating marine resources and coastal tourism in the study area.
The proposed model serves as part of her recommendations for enhancing local community participation in coastal tourism to ensure that maximum benefits accrue to them, consequently, leading to sustainable livelihoods.
Gumede thanked her family, friends and supervisor Professor Vivian Besem-Ojong for their support and guidance during her studies.