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To wish upon a star: Exploring Astro Tourism as vehicle for sustainable rural development

Laeticia Jacobs, Elizabeth A. Du Preez and Felicité Fairer-Wessels

Development Southern Africa, 2020, vol. 37, issue 1, 87-104

Abstract: Tourism is regarded as a key sector through which to bring about sustainable development in rural areas. A suitable product offering should be identified that matches the rural area’s unique resources with market demand. The Karoo Rural Node in South Africa’s unique landscape coupled with hosting astronomy sites of global importance presents the ideal opportunity to develop Astro Tourism as niche offering. This paper explores the region’s state of readiness to harness this potential through describing existing visitors’ travel behaviour, experiences and expectations, alongside views from supply side stakeholders. Mixed methodology presents evaluations at the hand of an Importance Performance and a SOAR Analysis depicting the state of readiness. The paper describes how a unique experience such as Astro Tourism can be regarded as viable mechanism to bring about sustainable development in a rural context.

Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1080/0376835X.2019.1609908

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