Battlefield Tourism in South Africa is an increasingly important tourism product in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Rising visitor numbers to the famous Anglo-Zulu battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift over the past ten years have created certain challenges to the management of the area. Thanatourism is a form of Cultural Heritage Tourism that comprises visits to battlefields. Thanatourism sites often attempt to interpret sensitive events of the past. This requires management skills different to those needed by other heritage attractions. One of the issues faced by management is dissonance in heritage, which refers to dilemmas associated with reconciling the interests of rival groups with separate stakes in the development of controversial sites. This study attempts to investigate the level of dissonance present at the battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift and to identify ways of reducing it. A qualitative approach was applied to capture the different opinions of four major stakeholder groups as present in Seaton’s Force Field Model (2001): the subject groups (Zulu and British), visitor groups, owners/controllers of heritage and the host community. An ethnographic investigation combined with an analysis of the tourism situation on the battlefields revealed that the levels of dissonance between the stakeholders are much lower than expected. This is achieved through the prioritisation of heritage at provincial level, the balanced narratives of tour guides, increasing economic prosperity and the participation of the host community in heritage development. The findings imply that despite South Africa’s colonial and apartheid past, Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift manage their dissonance successfully. It is suggested that in order to sustain this development, cooperation between tourism and heritage should be improved and the guiding environment should be more regulated and controlled. Also, new memorials on the battlefields have to be authentic and subject groups must be able to relate to them.
Dissertation (MPhil (Tourism Management))--University of Pretoria, 2007.