As South Africa focuses on developing its rural and township tourism offerings, there are new and innovative ideas being implemented in Soweto.
Driving inclusivity in the tourism industry as it recovers is imperative to SA Tourism, said CEO, Sisa Ntshona. “We really want to shine a spotlight on the rural side, the townships and urban areas as we increase and develop our product offerings.”
During a webinar hosted by Johannesburg in Your Pocket, the diversification and development of Soweto’s tourism products were highlighted by the panel.
Entrepreneurs in Soweto have been developing new and exciting products that also address the township’s issues.
For example, GM of Soweto Theatre, Nomsa Mazwai, has founded #FunkItImWalking, which focuses on walking safely through Soweto as a socio-economic development.
There is a dense population right next to the theatre but, despite that, it was struggling with audience numbers. The reason, said Mazwai, was because people cannot walk in Soweto.
Each month #FunkItImWalking chooses a five-km route with points of interest along the way. Joining the walks is free and there is a visible police presence on the routes, according to Mazwai. “We do encourage the walkers to spend their money at the shops or restaurants. Last time we ended the walk at Native Rebels restaurant and all 40 people stayed and had dinner,” she said, emphasising the potential value of tourists being able to walk safely.
Founder of Africa Bird Tours, Raymond Rampolokeng, is introducing birding tours in the township. Stepping away from the urban side of the destination, his offerings diversify Soweto’s overall appeal.
Passionate about environmental education and birding, Rampolokeng took on the challenge of finding a way to make conservation attractive. In 2010 during the FIFA World Cup he started birding tours in Soweto. He has identified unique sites where tourists can have an unexpected birding experience while also supporting ongoing conservation activities in the area.