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Tourism as a catalyst for local economic development in the Transkei Wild Coast
The study investigated tourism as a catalyst to local economic development of the Transkei Wild Coast. The Transkei Wild Coast is an area which stretches from the Kei River mouth south of East London, to Durban South Coast, with seven local municipalities located in the area. These local municipalities are Mquma, Mbhashe, King Sabata Dalindyebo, Nyandeni, Port St Johns, Ngquza Hill and Mbizana. Infrastructure and partnership models were identified as key to the development and growth of the tourism industry in the Transkei Wild Coast. It was found that the status of infrastructure and partnerships is lacking and delivers little or no economic benefits and advances in the Transkei Wild Coast. Factors contributing to the poor performance of tourism-led local economic development by the local municipalities in the Transkei Wild Coast include poor roads, poor communication, lack of infrastructure, erratic electricity supply, and poor quality of water supply. Partnerships both at strategic and implementation levels lack commitment, role clarification and acceptable beneficiation metrics to all involved stakeholders. Infrastructure and partnerships are explained as basic and key necessities in developing a successful tourism industry in the Transkei Wild Coast. The study argues that local municipalities need support to grow the tourism industry to become a key contributor to the local economic development strategy. The Transkei Wild Coast has a wealth of natural resources, culture and history to offer tourists to this area. Local economic viability of the Transkei Wild Coast will improve, which inevitably will lead to an improved standard of living of the host communities. Growth of the tourism industry will lead to growth and development of related industries/businesses. The findings revealed that the majority of Transkei Wild Coast inhabitants support investment in the tourism industry. Prioritisation of tourism as a catalyst to local economic development in the Transkei Wild Coast will unlock other potential economic sectors in the area. For this to succeed, it is imperative that capital infrastructure is improved and credible and beneficial partnerships are created and maintained. Recommendations are proposed to fulfil the State-led mandate for socioeconomic development and advancement at local municipal level in South Africa generally and the Transkei Wild Coast in particular.