The purpose of the study was to redefine the rural space and explore the potential tourism benefits for the Topnaars in the Kuiseb Delta. Kuiseb Delta has unparalleled archeological/historical sites of which 235 have been well researched. The historical sites are being threatened by unauthorized tourism and recreational activities. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism proclaimed community concessions recently which hold out hope for the Topnaar and other communities’ future to benefit from tourism. Topnaars are marginalized and are increasingly dispersing into adjacent towns or mines. The study utilised a naturalistic inquiry which is based on an illuminative approach. This involved the use of focus group interviews with participants in the tourism industry and a key informant technique with the Topnaar community. The method followed was important as it enabled the researchers to understand the principles underpinning potential community benefits and the industry’s role in tourism development in the Kuiseb Delta. The study unearthed that the proposed tourism activities are ideally located and offer unique tourism opportunities for the Topnaars. The proposed tourism products appeals to a growing market segment and could be marketed through binding market agreements with chosen partners. In addition, the project could be viable and could be operated at marginal cash. The study recommends the granting of a concession to the Topnaar community, the proclamation of the area as a ‘conservation area’ in terms of the ‘heritage act’, development of a management plan and an environmental impact assessment, attracting private sector partnership and providing of appropriate training for tour guides. The study further recommends continued archeological survey and documentation of additional cultural/archeological sites.
Key words: Tourism, community benefits, sustainable development, rural space, tourism products.
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