Catering for large numbers of tourists: the McDonaldization of casual dining in Kruger National Park

Open access


Since 2002 Kruger National Park (KNP) has subjected to a commercialisation strategy. Regarding income generation, SANParks (1) sees KNP as the goose that lays the golden eggs. As part of SANParks’ commercialisation strategy and in response to providing services that are efficient, predictable and calculable for a large number of tourists, SANParks has allowed well-known branded restaurants to be established in certain rest camps in KNP. This innovation has raised a range of different concerns and opinions among the public. This paper investigates the what and the where of casual dining experiences in KNP; describes how the catering services have evolved over the last 70 years; and evaluates current visitor perceptions of the introduction of franchised restaurants in the park. The main research instrument was a questionnaire survey. Survey findings confirmed that restaurant managers, park managers and visitors recognise franchised restaurants as positive contributors to the unique KNP experience. Park managers appraised the franchised restaurants as mechanisms for funding conservation.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Absher J.D. Kasul R.L. and Chang W.H. 2003: Methodological and conceptual issues in the development of customer service measures for the national recreation reservation service. In: Proceedings of the 2003 Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium Newton Square PA: US Forest Service Northeastern Research Station p. 54-59.

  • Blaine S. 2013: SANParks funding plan ‘will stand up to scrutiny’. In: Business Day Live 28 March. Available at: DoA: 10 August 2014.

  • Brooks D.J. and Haynes R.W. 2001: Recreation and Tourism in South-Central Alaska: Synthesisof Recent Trends and Prospects. PNW-GTR-511. Portland OR: US Forest Service PNW Research Station.

  • Buhalis D. 2000: Marketing the competitive destinations of the future. In: Tourism Management Vol. 21 No. 1 pp. 97-116. DOI:

  • Cloke P. and Perkins H. C. 2002: Commodification and adventure in New Zealand tourism. In: Current Issues in Tourism Vol. 5 No. 6 pp. 521-549. DOI:

  • Eagles P.F.J. and McCool S.F. 2002: Tourism in national parks and protected areas New York: CABI.

  • Ferreira S.L.A. and Harmse A. 1999: The social carrying capacity of Kruger National Park South Africa: Policy and practice. In: Tourism Geographies Vol. 1 No. 3 pp. 325-342. DOI:

  • Ferreira S.L.A. and Harmse A. 2014: Kruger National Park: Tourism development and issues around the management of large numbers of tourists. In: Journal of Ecotourism Vol. 13 No. 1 pp. 16-34. DOI:

  • Gupta S. and Arora M. 2014: Gastronomy tourism and destination image formation. In: Indian Journal of Applied Hospitality & Tourism Research Vol. 6 pp. 68-75. ISSN 2322-0899.

  • Hall S.J.P. and Hall C.M. 2006: The geography of tourism and recreation: Environment place and space London: Routledge.

  • Hall C.M. and Mitchell R. 2005: Gastronomic tourism: Comparing food and wine tourism experiences. In: Novelli M. editor Niche tourism: Contemporary issues trends and cases Oxford: Elsevier Butterworth Heinemann pp. 73-88.

  • Healy N. and McDonagh J. 2009: Commodification and conflict: What can the Irish approach to protected area management tell us? In: Society and Natural Resources Vol. 22 pp. 381-391. DOI:

  • Hjalager A. and Richards G. 2002: Research issues in tourism and gastronomy. In: Hjalager A. and Richards G. editors Tourism and gastronomy London: Routledge pp. 224-234.

  • Janson S.E. 2008: Applying the McDonaldization thesis and norm activation model to examine trends and effects of commercial outdoor recreation and tourism in Juneau Alaska. MA Thesis Corvallis: Oregon State University.

  • Joubert S.C.J. 2007: The history on the development of the Sabie and Shingwedzi Reserves and the Kruger National Park 1898 to 1946. Available at: DoA: 19 May 2015.

  • Kruger M. and Saayman M. 2011: An analysis of restaurants and shops in South African National Parks: Visitors’ perspective. Potchefstroom: TREES. Available at: DoA: 1 October 2014.

  • MacCannell D. 1992: Empty meeting grounds London: Routledge

  • Mabunda M.D. 2003: An Integrated tourism management framework for the Kruger National Park South Africa (PhD thesis). University of Pretoria Pretoria.

  • Manning R. 2001: Visitors’ experience and resource protection: A framework for managing carrying capacity for national parks. In: Journal of Park and Recreation Administration Vol. 19 No. 1 pp. 93-108. ISSN 2322-0899.

  • McIntosh A.J. and Prentice R.C. 1999: Affirming authenticity: Consuming cultural heritage. In: Annals of Tourism Research Vol. 26 No. 3 pp. 589-612. DOI:

  • McIntyre N. Jenkins J. and Booth K. 2001: Global influences on access: The changing face of access to public conservation lands in New Zealand. In: Sustainable Tourism Vol.9 No. 5 pp. 434-450. DOI:

  • McKinsey South Africa 2002: SANParks and McKinsey final meeting report following strategic review Skukuza: SANParks. National Parks Board (1997). Annual rapport. Pretoria: Government Printer.

  • Mendoza L.E. Marius A. Perex M. and Griman A.C. 2007: Critical success factors for customer relationship management strategy. In: Information and software technology Vol. 49 No. 1 pp. 913-945. DOI:

  • National Parks Board 1997: Annual Report. Pretoria: Government Printer.

  • Newsome D. Moore S.A. and Dowling R.K. 2013: Natural area tourism Bristol: Channel View Publication.

  • News24 2013: Kruger: ‘Mall water park and a cinema next?’ Available at: DoA: 24 March 2014.

  • Page S.J. and Connell J. 2009: Tourism: A modern synthesis. 3rd ed. London: Cengage Learning.

  • Parr D. 2000: Management practice for allocation of recreation concessions. Science and Research Internal Report 184. Wellington Department of Conservation. Available at: DoA: 16 October 2015.

  • Peters M. Weiermair K. and Katawandee P. 2006: Strategic brand management of tourist destinations: Creating emotions and meaning intangibles. In: Keller P. and Bieger T. editor Marketing efficiency in Tourism: Coping with volatile demand Berlin: Erich Scmidt Verslag pp. 65-79.

  • Quinn T. 2002: Public Lands and Private Recreation Enterprise: Policy Issues from a Historical Perspective. PNW-GTR-556. Portland OR US Forest Service PNW Research Station.

  • Richards G. 2013: Creativity and tourism in the city. In: Current issues in Tourism Vol.17 No.2 pp. 119-144. DOI:

  • Ritchie J.R.B. and Crouch G.I. 2000: The competitive destination: A sustainability perspective. In: Tourism Management Vol. 21 No. 1 pp. 1-7. DOI:

  • Ritzer G. 1983: The McDonaldization of society. In: Journal of American Culture 6 pp.100-107. DOI:

  • Ritzer G. 1996: The McDonaldization thesis: Is expansion inevitable? In: International Sociology Vol. 11 No. 3 pp. 291-308. DOI:

  • Ritzer G. 1998: The McDonaldization Thesis. London: Sage.

  • Saarinen J. 2004: Tourism and touristic representations of nature. In: Lew A.A. and Hall C.M. and Williams A.M. editors A companion to tourism Oxford: Blackwell pp. 438-449.

  • Saarinen J. 2013: ‘Tourism into the wild’: The limits of tourism in wilderness. In: Holden A. and Fennell D. editors The Routledge handbook of tourism and the environment London: Routledge pp. 145-154.

  • SANParks 2001: Media release: South African National Parks announced the winners from the second phase of its Commercialisation Programme. Available at: DoA: 28 October 2014.

  • SANParks 2007: Media release: South African National Parks announces successful KNP restaurant bidder. Available at: DoA: 28 October 2014.

  • SANParks 2009: Strategic environmental assessment for the Marula Region of the Kruger National Park (Final analysis report. Project No.: 9235). Prepared by INVEST. Unpublished report.

  • SANParks 2012: South African National Parks strategic plan for the fiscal 2013/14 - 2017/18. Available at: DoA: 9 October 2013.

  • SANParks 2014. Annual report 2013/2014. Available at: DoA: 27 Oktober 2014.

  • Shaw G. and Williams A.M. 2004: Tourism and tourism spaces London: Sage.

  • Taylor T.F. 2012: A concessionaire model for food and beverage operations in South African National Parks. Doctoral Dissertation. Potchefstroom: North West University.

  • TimesLIVE 2013: SANParks facing major funding problem. Available at: DoA: 23 March 2013.

  • Torres R. 2002: Cancun’s tourism development from a fordist spectrum of analysis. In: Tourist Studies Vol. 2 No. 1 pp. 87-116. DOI:

  • UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organisation) 2012: Global Report on Food Tourism. Volume 4. Madrid: UNWTO. Available at: DoA: 15 October 2014.

  • Urry J. 2000: Sociology beyond societies: Mobilities for the twenty-first century London: Routledge.

  • Vainikka V. 2013: Rethinking mass tourism. In: Tourist Studies Vol. 13 No. 3 pp. 268 -286. DOI:

  • Weaver D. 2001: Ecotourism Sydney Wiley.

  • Wolf E. 2006: Culinary tourism: The hidden harvest Iowa: Kendall Hunt Publishing

  • Zegre S.J. Needham M.D. Kruger L.E. and Rosenberger R.S. 2012: McDonaldization and commercial outdoor recreation and tourism in Alaska. In: Managing Leisure Vol. 17 pp. 333-348. DOI:

  • Zukin S. 2010: Naked city: The death and life of authentic urban places Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Journal information
Impact Factor

CiteScore 2018: 1.11

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.218
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.591

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 326 198 15
PDF Downloads 143 91 5