The relationship between drought and tourist arrivals: a case study of Kruger National Park, South Africa
Mathivha, Fhumulani I.
Tshipala, Ndivhuwo N.
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National parks around the world have been recognised as important sources of nature experiences for both local and international visitors. In South Africa, national parks are similarly important recreational and nature tourism attractions. They offer visitors an unparalleled diversity of tourism opportunities, including game viewing, bush walks and exposure to culture and history. South African National Parks (SANParks), established in 1926, is one of the world’s leading conservation and scientific research bodies and a leading agent in maintaining the country’s indigenous natural environment. The study aims to analyse the correlation between drought and the number of tourist arrivals to the Kruger National Park (KNP). Rainfall data, as well as data on tourist arrivals at KNP for the period from 1963 to 2015 were obtained from the South African Weather Services (SAWS) and SANParks, respectively. Rainfall data were used to determine the drought years at the KNP through computing the Standardised Precipitation Index (SPI) for various stations around the park. Pearson’s correlation coefficient was used as a statistical measure of the strength of a linear relationship between drought and tourist arrivals. The results showed that KNP experienced both negative and positive tourist arrivals, although the former was the case, tourist arrivals showed an increasing trend. The correlation relationship showed that 19.36% of the drought years corresponded to a negative change in tourist arrivals to the park. The results obtained confirm that the tourism industry is a fragile industry which is prone to environmental, social and economic state of a region.