Original Research

A visitor motivational typology at Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site

Uwe P. Hermann, Peet Van Der Merwe, Willem J.L. Coetzee, Melville Saayman
Acta Commercii | Vol 16, No 1 | a315 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v16i1.315 | © 2016 Uwe P. Hermann, Peet Van Der Merwe, Willem J.L. Coetzee, Melville Saayman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 March 2015 | Published: 12 May 2016

About the author(s)

Uwe P. Hermann, Department of Tourism Management, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa
Peet Van Der Merwe, Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society (TREES), North-West University, South Africa
Willem J.L. Coetzee, Department of Tourism, University of Otago, New Zealand
Melville Saayman, Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society (TREES), North-West University, South Africa


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.


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Crossref Citations

1. An exploratory investigation towards a visitor motivational profile at a provincial nature reserve in Gauteng
Davis Muzeza, Uwe P. Hermann, Pula S. Khunou
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doi: 10.4102/sajbm.v49i1.5