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05 Jul 2022
TOURISM to rural coastal areas has increased significantly since the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism banned the use of four-wheel-drive vehicles on beaches.
The ban, which was enacted to protect coastal wilderness areas such as St Lucia and Kosi Bay on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast has increased the amount of wildlife on the beaches – and attracted wealthy eco-tourists.
Kian Barker, owner of Shaka Barker Tours conducts tours to see the world-famous turtle nesting spots on the beach. According to Barker, this is the first year since the ban that tourism in the area has increased.
At the time the ban was enacted, many forecast that tourism to coastal areas would be damaged.
Barker told The Citizen that since the ban on vehicles the number of crabs on the beaches had increased significantly – leading to an increase in the number of other animals who prey on them.
With the wildlife more abundant tourists have found the area a tempting destination.
Barker said that turtle hatchlings also found it easier to reach the sea because they no longer had to negotiate tyre tracks on the way to the ocean.
The leatherback turtles, which nest on St Lucia, are endangered and the hatchlings are a favourite food for birds.
“The type of tourist that is visiting the area now is wealthier and spends more money,” said Barker.
David Ngubane, a guide who conducts walking tours along Kosi Bay beaches, said turtles were especially wary of lights when they came to nest and, on seeing vehicle headlights, most would turn back to sea and dump their eggs in the surf.