Several southern African governments view rural tourism development as a strategy
for employment creation in rural areas where few other opportunities for poverty
alleviation exist. Rural tourism routes can attract tourists from developed tourism nodes
to rural areas. On both the strategic and operational levels, rural tourism routes can
only function effectively if they have the support and co-operation of the wide range
of stakeholders in the route. While some stakeholders are readily identified, others
are not immediately apparent or may not be recognised as stakeholders in the route.
Based on a qualitative study, a framework is developed to identify and link the range
of stakeholders in southern African rural tourism routes. Three different groups of
stakeholders are identified; each play different roles in the sustainable success of a
rural tourism route, namely demand-side stakeholders or visitors, core stakeholders
or tourism service providers on the route, and enabling stakeholders, who influence
both the route operations and the environment in which the route operates. Finally,
recommendations are made for rural tourism route organisations to engage with a range
of stakeholders through an inclusive membership structure of the route organisation.
Further research is also suggested on the nature and format of route organisation and
membership structures to ensure sustainable route development.