Regionalizing Tourism through Transfrontier Conservation: Implications for Local Development in Southern Africa

In: The African Review
Author: Christine Noe1
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  • 1 Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography, College of Social Sciences, University of Dar es SalaamDar es SalaamTanzania
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The term ‘region’ no longer functions to denote a strictly geographical or spatial reference (Söderbaum, 2003). Owing to the radical shift in the conception of regions, their role in promoting local development has likewise changed drastically over time. Nowadays regions are conceived as multi-dimensional networks that emerge through partnerships between states and non-state actors, linking together local and foreign individuals and companies, powerful and powerless individuals and their communities. Rather than existing as bounded spatial expanses per se, regions in this expanded sense are fluid, continually constructed and deconstructed by the practices of these different partners and therefore their parameters are in perpetual flux. This paper explores how the practices of nature conservation and the promotion of nature-based tourism have contributed to the creation of new regions in this sense. The paper applies the case of Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and their constructions as cross-border regions of significance for promoting tourism. The paper draws some insights from studies that have examined transfrontier tourism to demonstrate how different actors have acquired political support and legitimacy for promoting cross-border tourism but that on-the-ground experiences have not matched the claims that tourism promotes local development. The main argument of the paper is that regional-wide conservation initiatives through which cross-border tourism is promoted by different partners have had spatial implications that are largely associated with various kinds of local livelihood (in) securities.

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