The Director-General for South Africa’s Department of Tourism, Victor Tharage, led a senior multi-departmental government delegation on Wednesday (February 13) to meet with tourism stakeholders around the Vilakazi Precinct, Johannesburg, to develop a framework to address the challenges faced by stakeholders.

One of the main challenges raised was the historic spatial planning deficiencies that continue to hinder the expansion of the tourism destination to its full potential, such as public amenities like ablutions, parking, street furniture, pedestrian walkways, bicycle lanes, and congested public transport routes.

The most pressing concern for many of the delegates present was the issue around safety and the current crime rate in the precinct, with reported syndicates targeting tourists. The situation has been exacerbated by illegal tour guides and parking attendants hustling in the precinct.

Thabang Sithole, Strategic Urban Planning for the City of Johannesburg, highlighted the progress that has been made, such as the interventions that have been implemented with regard to parking and traffic assessment.

“We plan to embark on piloting the idea of using Vilakazi Street as a one-way street during weekends, as part of our traffic assessment and the impact thereof. We urge you to give us feedback regarding this intervention,” said Sithole.

The Department of Tourism has decided to adopt the Vilakazi Street Development as a pilot model for the development of a blueprint for township tourism precincts, and has already developed a framework for consultation with stakeholders, as well as provincial and national government agencies.

“The framework will include the development of a stakeholder plan based on capacitating local communities to guide the effectiveness of operating a community policing forum, as well as supporting the existing tourism enterprises with business support services ranging from funding processes, management systems and promotional platforms to achieve resource efficiency,” said Tharage.

“Our aim is to establish and co-ordinate linkages across all spheres of government and other precincts, routes and municipal management structures, with the view of increasing the length of stay, spend and repeat visitation in line with the Department’s Domestic Tourism Strategy ultimately. It should not matter whether the precinct is township or not, it must just be a world-class, uniquely South African destination, and that is what this place will sooner or later start looking like,” concluded Tharage.