Nature-based tourism enterprise adaptive responses to covid-19 in south africa

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24 Citations (Scopus)


COVID-19 is forcing a re-orientation of tourism research agendas. Emerging themes relate to ramification, transformation and adaptation. The aim of this paper is to contribute to the research cluster on adaptation by examining tourism business adaptive responses to COVID-19 through the lens of a case study destination in the global South, namely Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. The methods implemented were qualitative, using semi-structured interviews. Data was analysed from 20 interviews conducted with enterprise owners or managers in a nature tourism destination which is one of South Africa's tourism-dependent areas and thus most exposed to the negative impacts of COVID-19. The results show that adaptation to the crisis has been challenging because of the financial impacts experienced by these enterprises in the wake of minimal government support. The enterprise adaptive responses included staff reductions and wage cuts, adjustments towards the domestic market through price cutting and changes in marketing as well as adjusted tourism product offerings towards an emerging Black middle class domestic market. Of critical importance is the finding that these adaptive measures cannot replace the revenues formerly generated from the international tourism market. Accordingly, without a change in government policy and the availability of direct government financial support, there is a danger that in the short term the tourism product base will be diminished as many lodges and other tourism businesses are in danger of permanent closure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)698-707
Number of pages10
JournalGeojournal of Tourism and Geosites
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Business adaptation
  • COVID-19
  • Nature tourism
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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