Chapter 27 Establishing and managing research programmes in tourism destinations: the case of South African National Parks
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Since 2015, the South African National Parks (SANParks) has increased its focus on tourism research to support its Responsible Tourism Strategy, the cornerstone for growth and financial sustainability of the organisation. In support of the strategy, tourism research is conducted in order to reach five key objectives: Enhance understanding of and management of the visitor and the visitor experience; grow and sustain revenues through identifying and targeting appropriate markets and products; assist the organisation in conducting business in a responsible and sustainable manner; better define the role of nature-based tourism in providing value to society and the economy; and on a practical level, assist tourism operations to become more efficient. This chapter provides an overview of the practices and protocols put in place by SANParks in designing and implementing its tourism research program. It describes how its research agenda was formulated in alignment with management priorities and kept relevant over time. It outlines the channels through which research is produced, discusses some of the challenges experienced and how these were overcome. Lastly, practical examples of research that have informed management decision making are provided.

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Editor: Anna Spenceley