Networking and learning for tourism innovation: evidence from the Western Cape

Irma Booyens, Christian M. Rogerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the nature of networking and learning by tourism firms in relation to accessing knowledge for innovation. In particular, the nature of tourism learning and networking, geography of networking linkages, and systemic characteristics of relationships between tourism firms, government agencies, higher education institutions, and other organisations in the Western Cape tourism system are examined. The analysis draws on 182 tourism firm, tourism system, and contextual interviews. This investigation demonstrates that even though tourism firms mostly use internal resources for innovation, external, non-local knowledge is significant for enhancing novel innovation. It is disclosed that whilst local network linkages are dense, loose, and of importance for business and marketing purposes, extra-regional network relationships are imperative for learning in relation to innovation. As further observed, network linkages between local and regional actors for supporting tourism innovation in the Western Cape are generally weak which points to the underdevelopment of local and regional innovation networks or systems. The paper provides planning recommendations for enhancing the competitiveness of tourism firms towards fostering development and growth in the regional tourism economy. Specifically, support for stimulating learning networks as well as strengthening systemic relationships in the Western Cape tourism system are recommended. It is underscored that strategic relationships with non-local partners need to be nurtured towards fostering tourism innovation and enhancing regional competitiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-361
Number of pages22
JournalTourism Geographies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2017


  • South Africa
  • Tourism innovation
  • innovation networking
  • knowledge
  • regional competitiveness
  • tourism innovation systems
  • tourism planning, tourism learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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