Determining the willingness to pay for visiting Nelson Mandela's heritage sites
Mgxekwa, Babalwa Bongekile
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In South Africa, the niche area of cultural heritage tourism holds particular promise for the racial transformation of the tourism sector and the empowerment of previously marginalized communities. As a result, many new heritage sites, museums, monuments, memorials and statues are being erected throughout the country to encourage more visitors to visit this destination. These cultural heritage products provide a unique opportunity for transmission of cultural knowledge between local communities and tourists, as well as increase the participation of local communities in the tourism industry, thereby, playing a pivotal role in the economic empowerment, skills development of people and social benefits within the communities. This is particularly important for provinces such as the Eastern Cape where tourism continues to decline both in value and volume despite the potential it has due to the rich cultural heritage it possesses, in terms of being the birthplace of struggle heroes such as Nelson Mandela, the first elected black South African president in the country’s first democratic election. A handful of authors have emerged as leading authors on South Africa’s cultural heritage tourism development. However, this entails only few research studies whose focus have mainly been on cultural heritage tourism as the fasted growing type of tourism and confirmed its potent ability to bring substantial economic benefits to South Africa’s cultural heritage products with only a miniature amount of academic literature that exists on aspect of willingness to pay for cultural heritage goods. This study attempts to determine the willingness to pay of visitors and non-visitors to the Nelson Mandela Heritage Sites. The research question addressed by this dissertation is: “What are visitors and non-visitors willing to pay when visiting or intending to visit Nelson Mandela Heritage Sites (NMHS)?” In order to put the investigation in its proper perspective, various objectives were formulated. First, it critically analysed the concept of cultural heritage tourism and how this concept relates to cultural heritage goods which encapsulates the history of apartheid whilst interpreted as an integral part of the new South African national identity. This assisted in the understanding of the new class of cultural heritage attractions representative of the new rainbow nation of the explicitly multiracial South Africa. Second, the study was intended to critically analyse valuation of cultural heritage goods. This was done in order to understand the concept of economic valuation for cultural heritage assets, how and why these cultural heritage goods are valued and what methods are used to determine willingness to pay. The third objective was to determine whether visitors and non-visitors were willing to pay or not in order to visit NMHS as well as amounts willing to pay. This assisted in identifying variables that influenced willingness to pay as well as variables that served as determinants and predictors of amounts willing to pay. The data were collected by means of a survey, using self-administered questionnaires distributed to visitors of Nelson Mandela Youth and Heritage Centre in Qunu, one of the three components of the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha, Eastern Cape. Also, it was collected from the online survey which included a link to the online questionnaire in Google Forms which targeted national and international visitors and non-visitors who follow tourism and cultural heritage tourism organisations as well as on Facebook pages. The data were captured using Microsoft© Excel and appropriate statistical analyses. An initial analysis (descriptive statistics) was used to determine the profile characteristics of NMHS respondents. Thereafter, statistical analyses such as Exploratory Factor Analysis, independent t-tests and cross tabulations, Spearman’s rho tests, as well as stepwise linear regression analysis were used according to respective objectives and descriptors. The results of the descriptive statistics showed that about 89% of the respondents are willing to pay extra in order to see these sites. The factor analysis was conducted to create correlated variable composites from the original 43 attributes of memorable visitor experiences where these 43 attributes resulted in seven factors being isolated: technology, quality service, amenities, accessibility, modern technology, interpretation, as well as convenience. Quality service, followed by accessibility and convenience factors were perceived as the most important factors that contribute to the NMHS establishing a memorable visitor experience. The results of independent t-tests and cross-tabulations, Spearman’s rho tests as well as linear regression analyses were implemented on aspects of socio-demographic and behavioural characteristics as well as factors of memorable visitor experience to identify variables that influenced willingness to pay as well as amounts willing to pay. From independent t-tests, statistically significant differences were found on some of these aspects with both medium and small effect sizes, while the results of cross-tabulations did not reveal any statistically significant differences. However, it did reveal variables that had small effect sizes. For Spearman’s tests only very few instances were found where variables on these aspects acted as strong predictors for amount willing to pay for the NMHS. It was determined that this study makes multiple contributions towards a valuation of cultural heritage goods literature in tourism, towards the applicable methodology of determining willingness to pay as well as practical contributions that will inform future development and management of cultural heritage sites in other communities. Based upon the results of this study, several recommendations can be made to encourage willingness to pay for visitors and non-visitors of NMHS. Firstly, identifying which attributes satisfy the visitors who visit cultural heritage sites will help cultural heritage tourism planners develop appropriate strategies to attract them and serve them effectively. Secondly, managers and marketers should employ strategies such as effective media sources that will generate national as well as international awareness of these sites, thereby, encouraging more visitors other than local ones to these sites. Thirdly, extensive educational awareness of local communities about the value of these sites by planners and managers should be employed so as to increase their understanding, thereby encouraging them to be willing to pay.