The operational competitiveness of public protected areas managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Koedoe: African Protected Area Conservation and Science
The purpose of this study was to measure the operational competitiveness of public protected areas (PPAs) in the KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa. Financial data for ecotourism operations in PPAs were collected from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) for 2007–2013, to construct an operational competitiveness profile for each PPA by using a non-parametric method called operational competitiveness rating analysis (OCRA). The results show that permanent staff, utilities, maintenance and repairs,
... nce and repairs, and cost of sales were cost items with the highest average share of total costs, whereas accommodation, admissions, sales and tours, and rides and hikes received higher average shares of total revenues for most PPAs. The identification of the most important cost and revenue items was followed by the computation of resource consumption and revenue generation inefficiency ratings from 2007 to 2013, with the results showing that resource competitiveness had more impact on operational competitiveness relative to revenue competitiveness. This suggests that PPAs under EKZNW can improve operational competitiveness by reducing costs. Ecotourism is an economic incentive used in several countries to encourage biodiversity conservation. Because of declining public funding, conservation agencies such as EKZNW in South Africa should find new sources of funding or find cost-effective ways of managing ecotourism operations.Conservation implications: This information will provide insights into the quality of operational efficiencies of ecotourism activities at EKZNW-controlled PPAs and motivate management to adopt cost-cutting and revenue-increasing strategies to improve operational competitiveness.