Religiously Motivated Travel and Rural Tourism in Vhembe District of South Africa
University of Venda, P Bag X5050, Thohoyandou, Limpopo Province, South Africa
The study investigated the socio-economic impact of religious tourism (UAAC gathering) on the local tourism industry and on surrounding rural communities in Vhembe District Municipality (VDM) of South Africa. Questionnaires were used to collect data on pilgrims (visitors), businesses, and residents during, and immediately after the event. Statistical techniques were used to analyse the data to gain insight into the data as basis for answering the research questions posed in this study. The results revealed that majority of the pilgrims to the UAAC gathering were from the host province of Limpopo. Also, most pilgrims travel to the pilgrimage site solely for religious reasons. Another significant finding is that the average spending per pilgrim by pilgrims from the rest of South Africa is larger than their Limpopo and foreign pilgrim counterparts. Furthermore, the results showed that while businesses were positive about the pilgrimage’s contribution to increased sales from their businesses, they at the same time opined that the event does not generate any additional employment. This could be because out of every R100 of pilgrims spending only R2.16 remains in the local economy through leakages. Finally an important finding of the study is overall consensus among residents that the annual pilgrimage gathering promotes morality, improved socialization as well as a sense of feeling good and proud of their community.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2014
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.