Adventure tourism

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Chapter 3: Identification of adventure hotspots: methodology, analysis and validation

Introduction

It is important to know where the adventure hotspots in KZN are located. Accurate location can ultimately lead to better planning and decision-making, which would result in the sustainable growth of adventure tourism in KZN. Currently KZN does not have a system to identify and locate adventure hotspots. This provides geographers with a unique and exciting opportunity to understand the adventurer and to locate where he/she would ideally like to engage in an adventure activity.
This chapter deals with the first component of Objective 1, which was to identify adventure hotspots in the KZN province by using the functionalities of a GIS. This is followed by an examination of the second component of Objective 1, which was to validate and add further insight to the GIS findings by questioning the tourism practitioners from the KZN province.

Methodology adopted for adventure hotspot identification (component one of Objective one)

Defining a hotspot

This section describes the term ‘hotspot’, as used in this research. An introduction to the term was already discussed briefly in Chapter 1 (1.4.4). A GIS is the ideal platform from which to manage and analyse the spatial attributes used in this research to identify and locate adventure hotspots. To start deciphering a hotspot, it is important to develop a sense of spatial awareness of adventure tourism in KZN. Geographers have the ability to use this spatial awareness to develop a ‘spatial language’ that can act as an intellectual filter. This intellectual filter can help geographers select spatial attributes necessary for analysis and eventually to make decisions (De Mers, 1997). De Mers (1997:25) suggests that “as we experience space, we will encounter features and objects of many different types and we can use this experience to enhance our geographical skills such as viewing, analysing and understanding spatial patterns.”.
This ‘spatial language’ referred to in the previous paragraph was used to identify where and what a hotspot is. Definitions of ‘adventure’ and ‘adventure tourism’ are tabled, and key elements of the more applicable definitions are used to forge a type of ‘spatial language’. This ‘spatial language’ will guide which spatial attributes are needed to identify where the adventure hotspots are located in the province. As was mentioned in Chapter 2 (2.2), “adventure tourism usually involves people travelling off the beaten track into fragile environments and/or communities that are socially vulnerable” (Swartbrooke, 2003:196). Swartbrooke et al. (2003) suggest that the adventurer is attracted to exploration and discovery as the more important components of adventure. Smith & Jenner (1999:45) state that the essential ingredients of an adventure seem to include “a remote, under-populated region with a traditional culture where facilities are extremely limited”. Addison (1999:416, in Swartbrooke et al. 2003:29) states that “the threefold combination of activity, nature and culture marks adventure travel as an all-round challenge.” According to Millington et al. (2001:67), adventure travel is “a leisure activity that takes place in an unusual, exotic, and remote or wilderness destination. It tends to be associated with high levels of activity by the participant, most of it outdoors, adventure travellers expect to experience various levels of risk, excitement and tranquillity, and be personally tested, in particular they are explorers of unspoilt, exotic parts of the planet and also seek out personal challenge.”.
Next, the TKZN viewpoint on what adventure tourism is considered. As stated in the introduction, the KZN definition of adventure tourism is “a type of tourism which takes places in a destination which offers nature-based tourism but which in itself offers some measure of uncertainty, risk or increased levels of physical activity” (Kohler, 2004:7). The TKZN adventure tourism strategy further proposes that “adventure tourism is a type of tourism which takes place in a destination which offers nature-based tourism but which in itself offers some measure of uncertainty, risk or increased levels of physical activity” (Kohler, 2005:7). From the TKZN adventure strategies definition, the key element of ‘nature-based’ tourism was extracted as a further ingredient for the ‘spatial language’ associated with an adventure hotspot. Valentine, Weiler & Hall (1992, in Kohler, 2005:7) propose that nature-based tourism is primarily concerned with the direct enjoyment of some relatively undisturbed phenomenon of nature.
To summarise the discussion about the nature of adventure hotspots, it can be stated that the characteristics of the adventure hotspot have their origins in observations from the literature and the TKZN adventure strategy. From the above definitions, key elements of each definition were typed in bold. These will be used to add substance to the context or the ‘spatial language’ associated with defining a hotspot. The key elements that were extracted can be listed as remote, traditional culture, nature, wilderness, unspoilt, exotic, nature-based, undisturbed, risk
and physical activity. These elements will be used to give meaning to the adventure hotspot. From this, the research concluded that adventure hotspots are areas that are richly endowed with natural resources and not located in close proximity to built-up areas and places of high population density. Adventure activities based around geographic features in these ‘hotspots’ can also provide an element of risk and physical challenge to the adventurer traveller. It is important to note that adventure tourism, although a new type of tourism, is already established in KZN (Kohler 2004) and some of the hotspots will have adventure tourism activities already underway. Therefore these hotspots could be either, ‘existing adventure hotspots’ or ‘potential adventure hotspots’. To establish exactly which hotspots are ‘existing’ or have the ‘potential’ will require further research and will be briefly discussed in the final chapter.

Data requirements and sources

In order to identify hotspots, specific data was collected for analysis in a GIS. The challenge of defining a hotspot in the previous section allowed the research to direct the process of data gathering and not to get carried away with the masses of inter-related spatial data sets available. Berry (1995:13) stated that “the view (the next step) beyond data and information is order.”
The preliminary step was to relate the definition of adventure hotspots to possible spatial layers that could be used to emphasise the definition of adventure travel hotspots. From the definition, two important assumptions are made that impact on the spatial data needs. Firstly, spatial data was needed to identify areas well endowed with natural features and, secondly, areas that are distant from built-up areas.
The Environmental Potential Atlas (ENPAT) data series was obtained from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) during the months of August and September 2008. These data consisted of a set of layers that is used in DEAT’s GIS and which is available to academics and researchers. The ENPAT data series covers the whole of South Africa and has a number of layers that can be used separately, or in combination, to identify adventure hotspots. Over and above the ENPAT data series, two spatial layers (spatial information) were sourced from a private company (AfriGIS). The custodian of the data gave permission to use the data for this research. These layers are streets network (lines) and accommodation facilities. Two layers were geo-coded from a hardcopy map book; these layers were waterfalls and caves. Table 1.7 (Chapter 1) is an illustration of all the layers that were chosen with which to locate an adventure hotspot. What follows here is a more detailed explanation of each attribute and its importance to the research. Insight into the usefulness of each spatial attribute to the research definition of an adventure hotspot was gained from the DEAT ENPAT data custodians and TKZN practitioners in the early parts of 2009.
Accommodation locations: An adventure hotspot is likely to be in proximity to a tourist accommodation location. The accommodation location is likely to be one of the last human infrastructural developments before entering into an adventure hotspot. To achieve the objective of finding adventure hotspots, it is necessary to remove all attributes linked to human activity from the equation. This will include the accommodation locations. Knowing where the accommodation is in proximity to the hotspots is also useful for future research and will be explained in Section 5.7.
Architectural sites: The DEAT identified locations of architectural importance. These are in and around built-up areas and are of importance to the locals’ current and past history. Although these sites can also be an attraction to conventional tourists, the adventurer is more interested in the natural outdoors. Therefore, to align the research with the definition of an adventure hotspot, it is necessary to identify hotspots where there is no presence of architectural sites, since the adventurer is interested in hotspots that are completely natural.
Pebble, rocky and sandy beaches: The DEAT delimited the different types of beaches along the South African coastline. These layers are useful to the adventurer, as they accurately identify where the ideal locations are for beach adventure activities. These activities include surfing, surf fishing, diving, snorkelling, wind and kite-surfing (among other adventure activities one can partake in on a beach).
Built-up areas: This spatial layer identified the main urbanised and developed regions of the province. According to the research definition of an adventure hotspot, these built-up areas would need to be excluded from the process, since the research is interested in hotspots with no presence of human features.
Caves: These features are normally off the beaten track and far away from developed areas. The caves are normally in a fragile state and vulnerable to mass tourism. It is likely that an adventure traveller would be eager to experience these locations by engaging in the hikes that lead up to the cave locations.
Conservation areas: This layer demarcates all the areas that are protected by South African legislation. This layer is important to the adventurer, since he/she would be interested in natural areas that are untouched and preserved. Though there is likely to be human influence at these locations, the area is primarily focused on accentuating the natural qualities of the location. There are a number of activities the adventurer would be keen to partake in, such as game drives, hikes, climbing, photography tours and interaction with the locals, (among other adventure activities one can engage in or participate in, in a conservation area).
Fauna and flora features: The ENPAT identified regions that have a variety of fauna and flora. These locations are of value to the adventurer who is attracted to locations where there is a variety of plants, flowers, vegetation and other flora species. They are also attracted to locations that have many animals, insects and other fauna species. A number of activities could unfold at these locations, such as game driving, photographic tours, hikes and many other adventure-related activities in the surrounding area.
Geological and natural features: The study area is inundated with a variety of geological and natural structures. There are a number of activities in which the adventurer could partake here, such as hiking, climbing, game viewing drives, climbing adventure sports, (among other adventure activities one can partake in, in a geological and naturally attractive area).
Mountains: According to the research definition of an adventure hotspot, the adventurer is keen to visit areas that are natural and pristine. High (upper escarpments) and low (lower escarpments) mountain features are ideal for the adventurer, since they can be used for adventure sports such as climbing, paragliding, abseiling, hiking and other mountain-related adventure activities.
National heritage sites: The ENPAT data series show many heritage sites that occur in a totally natural and pristine setting and have been given recognition as heritage sites from the DEAT. These sites could include famous battle fields along river beds or mountain ranges, which provide the backdrop for epic migratory treks. Adventurers may be interested to relive these historical moments by hiking, driving or just experiencing the areas in which they occur in their natural state.
Perennial water bodies: There are a number of constructed and natural water bodies that are being used for water-related adventure activities. Activities such as boating, fishing and water sports can be enjoyed at such locations.
Rivers: ENPAT mapped all the river features in the country. The adventurer is likely to be attracted to rivers where water-based adventure activities take place. These activities include river rafting, fishing and photography, among other water-based adventure activities.
Street network: According to the definition, the adventure hotspot should be away from built-up areas. This is defined by the street network. By using these features as a mask towards the end of the analysis will result in retaining only those hotspots that do not have streets. It is therefore important to include this layer in the process so that those grid cells that have street features can be eventually removed during the final stages.
Waterfalls: A waterfall is a unique feature in nature. Often adventure suppliers create adventure activities in and around the waterfalls, such as white-water rafting, gorge swinging and photographic tours (among other adventure activities one can partake at a waterfall site).
Wetlands: These areas are major tourist attractions and the province is blessed with some of the most impressive wetlands in the world. The adventurer may be interested in participating in a range of activities that may include fishing, bird watching, game drives and photographic tours (among other adventure activities one can partake in at a wetland site).

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Data preparation

The ENPAT spatial data set, as well the spatial data from industry, was received in vector format. All spatial data were projected to the WGS84 latitude/longitude projection, and all layers were in Esri shapefile (.shp) format. The shapefile format is arguably the most recognised format found in the GIS industry. There are very few modern day GIS packages that cannot read a .shp file. The spatial data from the different sources were imported into the Maptitude GIS package. The software allowed the .shp files to be viewed on the GIS. It was, however, necessary to convert the shapefiles to the Maptitude format (.dbd) for editing and analysis. This was done for all attributes.
With all the imports complete, the next step was to structure the spatial data warehouse. The warehouse, in this respect, was a set of structured folders housed on Windows Explorer on a personal computer. Windows Explorer aids in efficiently storing the spatial data. Folders were created for the two groups of data, namely the human attribute data (H_Cultural as indicated in Figure 3.1) and natural attribute data (natural as indicated in Figure 3.1). All the translated .dbd files (see Table 1.7) were stored in their relevant locations according to the attribute groupings.
The majority of the layers were already prepared for analysis and used as-is in the analysis process. Only the street layer had to be manipulated. The streets layer had to be modified to the ‘spatial language’ associated with the research definition of an adventure hotspot. According to the definition of an adventure hotspot, it is likely to be located ‘off-the-beaten-track’, away from built-up main roads and freeways. Therefore, the main freeways and highways were excluded from the analysis process. Only the gravel and secondary road features were included in the analysis, since these classes of ‘streets’ are considered to be in close proximity to the hotspots. These assumptions were discussed with the ENPAT data custodian and later verified in the questionnaire survey conducted with the KZN tourism practitioners.

Ordering the spatial data

Some of the applications using a GIS in the field of tourism were reviewed in Section 2.4.2. There are many related case studies proposing the use of a GIS in tourism planning. These case studies range from using a GIS as just a simple tool for visualising the tourist destination, to applying complex multi-criteria analysis (Van der Merwe, 2009) using spatial weights attached to each layer, which can be used to output different scenarios relating to the natural and built-up environment. Data structures, including those that are geographical in nature, have two certainties, “(1) tomorrow there will be new ones, and (2) what’s good for one application isn’t necessarily best for another” (Berry, 1995:102).
Spatial analysis involves many possible methods to model reality. It depends on ‘what’ needs to be achieved and the availability of data to achieve the ‘what’. Most GIS packages these days are ambidextrous, having the capabilities to spatially analyse both vector and raster data (Berry, 1995). In this research, a vector-grid or vectorised cell approach was adopted, using a vector-based GIS (Maptitude). Similar approaches were adopted in Mauritius (Beedasy, 1999), Sri-Lanka (Boers & Cotrell, 2005) and Southern Illinois, USA (Xiao et al., 2002) using the vectorised cell approach.
In this research, a 5 km by 5 km grid cell was adopted. The total area of a grid is therefore 25 km². Figure 3.2 below graphically illustrates the grid structure adopted for this research.
The next step was to bound the landscape phenomena into its main groups of human and natural features. Each individual feature type also had to be grouped into related layers (either points, lines or areas). According to the research definition of an adventure hotspot, it has certain natural and human attributes. Once the phenomena were grouped as natural or human features (as shown in Figure 3.1 above) a number of Structured Query Language (SQL) queries were executed on the individual feature types. The aim was to identify those cells that have an abundance of natural attributes and no presence of human attributes, thus accentuating the research definition of an adventure hotspot. The desired outcome of this approach was to maintain a consistent and uniform manner in which adventure hotspots are identified in KZN by using a GIS.
On the following pages the reader will find three tables that elaborate on the method adopted to identify an adventure hotspot. The details of the steps followed with the human attributes are discussed in Table 3.1. Table 3.2 explains the steps followed with the natural attributes. The overlaying process steps are elaborated on in Table 3.3.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF FIGURES
LIST OF TABLES
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
SUMMARY
ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS
Section number and title
1 Introduction and background
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Geography of tourism
1.3 South African tourism
1.4 KwaZulu-Natal — the study area
1.5 Motivation for research
1.6 Statement of problem
1.7 Aims and objectives of study
1.8 Research design and methodology
1.9 Organisation of thesis
1.10 Conclusion
2 Perspectives from the literature
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Adventure tourism
2.3 Dynamics of tourist and tourist destination interaction
2.4 Management and tourism information
2.5 Information needs of the adventure traveller
2.6 Conclusion
3 Identification of adventure hotspots: methodology, analysis and validation
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Methodology adopted for adventure hotspot identification (component one of objective one)
3.3 Results of the GIS process
3.4 Interpretation of questionnaire/validation of hotspots
3.5 Analysis of questionnaire responses
3.6 Conclusion
4 Adventure traveller information prompts for a mobile GIS framework in the KZN province: methodology and results
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Methodology – establish responsible adventure tourism information prompts
4.3 Results – catalogue of information prompts for the adventurer
4.4 Establishing a framework for a mobile GIS
4.5 Results: the framework criteria for a mobile GIS in KZN
4.6 Conclusion
5 Findings and conclusions
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Identification of adventure hotspots
5.3 Information on hotspots from tourism practitioners
5.4 Implementation in mobile GIS
5.5 Potential value of the research
5.6 Data limitations
5.7 Recommendations for further studies
5.8 Concluding remarks
Reference list
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