Visitor motivational typology at Mapungubwe National Park and world heritage site
Van der Merwe, Peet
Coetzee, Willem J.L.
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Orientation: Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site (MNP) is a unique national park in South Africa in that it includes a World Heritage Site of significant importance for the people of southern Africa. MNP is a relatively new national park with low visitor numbers and occupancy rates, which threaten the sustainable management of the park. Research purpose: This study aimed to develop a general visitor profile and to describe the motivational factors for visiting the park in order to support the development of tourism at MNP. Motivation of the study: A tourism management plan is required for the park; however, any planning associated planning requires an assessment of tourist behaviour and needs. Research design, approach and method: An online questionnaire was distributed to a database of visitors to MNP during March?April 2013. A total of 486 responses were received. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics through frequencies and means. Motivator constructs were analysed through a factor analysis. Main findings: The study both confirmed and contradicted previous findings from other national parks in terms of visitor profiles and motivations. Most crucially, this study identified a new motivational factor for visiting national parks, which advances the need to manage the heritage aspect of world heritage sites distinctly from national parks. Managerial implications: The results indicated that visitors to MNP were older and better educated compared to visitors at other national parks. These visitors included predominantly first-time visitors. In addition these visitors are mainly motivated by the need for a nature experience, although the park is not a Big 5 reserve, findings also identified heritage and education as a unique motivational factor for this park. Contribution added: The study promotes the requirement of a unique park-specific tourism management strategy for MNP as the market base of this park is demographically distinct. In addition, the park should improve the promotion of its status as a World Heritage asset in relation to its natural attributes in order to attract greater numbers of heritage tourists. Although the park features exceptional natural features, the reserve is not a Big 5 reserve and this may result in dissatisfaction with the major group of visitors seeking a nature experience.