The reason for my visit to Kayamandi in Stellenbosch is to highlight the benefits of Township Tourism because I truly believe that these projects will play a key role in transforming the tourism sector for the better.
Township tourism plays a vital role in highlighting tourism attractions with a focus on culture and heritage in areas not adequately explored.
Despite the perceptions of townships from outside, effects on the local economy are very significant. Through the growing tourism sector townships have become more accessible and opportunities have opened for black South Africans.
For a long time, there’s been a stigma around South Africa’s townships and therefore I am of the opinion that if township tours are organized in a safe and informative way, it can help to overcome stereotypes of township life.
This is an important segment of the tourism landscape that requires a renewed approach with vigor and innovation to encourage direct participation of historically disadvantaged communities.
Tour operators frequently buss in visitors and stop at local craft shops or experience a braai at a popular tavern, and disappointingly when tour companies change the focus of their visits to another area, township residents and craft shops sit without income. To prevent this from happening, it will require the development of tourism nodes and attractions beyond the traditional routes.
We recognise that inclusive growth requires an innovative approach that expands into new segments of the tourism landscape. We recognise the potential of stimulating local economies through developing Township Tourism as a means to evolve cultural experiences.
In order to make township tourism benefit the community and industry, the National Department of Tourism must make available significantly more training, resources and marketing, whereas Local Government should lead the expansion of more products as part of its local economic development (LED) mandate.
I will make use of the parliamentary processes available to me to push for the above-mentioned measures to be fulfilled because of my belief that township tourism can create a variety of economic opportunities by bringing in and sustaining a portion of the lucrative tourism sector to these communities.
There needs to be a switch in focus from visitor numbers to visitor revenue, much more community engagement with tourism as the focus, and to ensure that the tourism sector has the appropriate skills to meet the needs of future visitors. Having said this, I therefore welcome the announcement by the Western Cape Provincial Department of Economic Opportunities that it will invest in new tourism attractions and address congestion at existing popular attractions in the coming months to attract more visitors.
Considering that homestays and township trips offer a great economic opportunity for areas that are not adequately explored – and more importantly, develop economic opportunities for often-neglected communities – I am sure that the aforementioned program would advance township tourism prospects given its vital role in the development of job creation while providing for unique cultural experiences and social cohesion.
Township tourism provides economic opportunities for local entrepreneurs to enter the ground tour operating business. In this sense I conclude that township tours are helping to overcome the legacy of social and economic exclusion, which has for too long characterised township life.