Driving the desert: Profiling four-wheel-drive visitors
Deserts are one of the last frontiers of the global tourism industry. They are often remote, suffer from temperature extremes, have fragile ecosystems, usually lack significant infrastructure and, above all, are dangerous places for the unprepared. Compared to other landscapes, deserts receive few visitors, little has been written about them and they suffer from lack of infrastructure around which a tourism industry may be built. Of all the factors that influence the extent to which deserts can be developed as a tourism resource, access must rank as the most important and is a key element in the discussion in this chapter. Following a review of the major land-based access issues that have to be addressed to effectively develop desert tourism, this chapter focuses on the role that four-wheel-drive (4WD) vehicles are able to play in desert tourism, using a specific market sector as a case study. This chapter should be read in conjunction with Taylor and Carson (this volume, Chapter 17) for a comprehensive review of four-wheel driving.