A blog by Wandisile Sebezo.
Wandi’s Travel Diaries: Township economy thrives in Gauteng – Lessons for Plett
As we know, you’re not really in South Africa if you haven’t visited at least one of its townships.
Each is unique with its own history, heritage and culture, making it difficult to compare.
Tourism has become one of the most important sectors the world over, creating over 1 million jobs in South Africa since 1994. And part of the tourism sector, specifically in South Africa, is what we have come to know as ‘Township Tourism’.
The main reason townships are thriving in Gauteng is that the government here realised that as far as tourism is concerned, Gauteng relies more on culture and heritage as opposed to pristine beaches that places like Plett boast about.
Whether you’re going out for some snacks or drinks, in Gauteng you’re most likely to end up at a Tshisa Nyama in one of its many vibrant townships.
You have Vilakazi Street in Soweto, Busy Corner in Tembisa and Ayepyep in Centurion amongst others. What strikes me the most is how well organised they are, to a point where you even forget you’re in a township.
The service is efficient and reliable, the food is fresh and obviously the vibe is just amazing.
I was at Busy Corner in Tembisa the other night and I asked myself, what is it that we’re not doing right in Plett, that the people of Gauteng have mastered?
Certainly, Plett being a small town can’t compete with places like Jozi, but at least we should be able to cash in on some basics, I think.
I have noticed that people in this part of the world believe in realness, or let’s call it originality. In other words they believe in places that have stood the test of time.
Immediately my mind thought of places like Skhuluz Lounge in Kwano which has been part of the Plett community for the last two decades.
With Kwano being Plett’s most vibrant township, it’s quite sad that the powers that be have yet to recognise the importance of Township Tourism.
Plett Tourism has developed a number of viable concepts to support Township Tourism across Plett.
The backpacker project in Qolweni, the Kranshoek Cultural Bridge and the remodeling of Kwano’s CBD in front of Skhuluz Lounge as the cultural hub of Kwano are but some of the already developed concepts that just need municipal approval and funding.
The sooner we realise that consistency is key, in funding, in strategy and in policy, the better.
Township Tourism compared to the Mainstream Tourism is still marginal, hence the need to expand to new areas and promote the direct participation of historically disadvantaged groups. If tourism is to impact significantly in rooting out poverty and unemployment, it must develop beyond the traditional routes currently in use.