The geography of tourist bednights in South Africa

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18 Citations (Scopus)


The discipline of geography is a leading contributor to tourism research. Although tourism geography research covers a broad spectrum of issues and approaches the most distinctive approach that geography brings to tourism scholarship is through adopting a spatial view. Against the background of a review of international research using a spatial perspective on accommodation this paper analyses the geography of tourist bednights in South Africa. Bednights include commercial and non-commercial types of accommodation. The results show the majority of bednights in South Africa occur in non-commercial forms of accommodation because of the large volume of tourism in the country which is accounted by low-income VFR travellers most of whom do not use commercial accommodation services. Analysis of the spatial distribution of bednights discloses that the greatest share is represented in the country's largest metropolitan centres albeit important differences are observed in the balance between domestic and international bednights between the country's major cities. The patterns of domestic bednights are more spread than for international bednights. A highly distinctive feature of South Africa's geography of bednights is the particularly strong pattern of dominance of domestic bednights in the tourism economy of the mainly rural and former Homelands areas that were created under apartheid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)835-847
Number of pages13
JournalGeojournal of Tourism and Geosites
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Accommodation services
  • Bednights
  • South Africa
  • Spatial approach
  • Tourism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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