Black tour operators yearn for opportunities

Chief executive officer of the Southern African Travel Services, David Frost, urged the goverment to support township tourism.

Black owned tour operating companies have expressed their frustration and anger about the lack of opportunities and skills afforded to them by the Western Cape government.

They complained that often black tour operators were restricted from transporting tourists to urban and affluent areas and were only allowed to operate within the township precinct while big companies had no restrictions. They argued that this was unfair and accused the government of having double standards, because they emphasised the importance of tourism, but failed to implement strategies that empowered emerging black tourism companies.

This comes after the City of Cape Town and various stakeholders held a tourism sustainability engagement event at Guga S’thebe centre in Langa on Friday September 29.

Director of Sam’s Cultural Tours, Sam Ntimba, told the delegates tht while the City preached sustainability and inclusive tourism, they were suppressed and operating under dire conditions.

For example, he said, while the City claimed to support local tourism and business, the company that provided catering to the seminar was not even from Langa-nor any other township area.

“The truth is this industry remains to be one of the hostile industries to us.

“This industry needs to be transformed.

“It is a headache for a black person to run a tourism company.

“We should not be restricted,” he said.

Mr Ntimba said their businesses were struggling.

Ward councillor, Nomtha Dilima, said the whole of Langa was a historical precinct which should be preserved.

Ms Dilima pointed out that some of the tour guides who were not from the area, mislead tourists with inaccurate information.

In addition to this, she said, changes made to streets names and places without proper consultation, was destroying the precious history of the area.

But mayoral committee member for area north, Suzette Little, said the City was committed to ensuring that responsible tourism offered opportunities, was inclusive, did not harm the environment and respected local culture.

Ms Little said tourism was booming in Cape Town-and in the country-and so were the demands for sustainable experiences. She stressed that responsible tourism had the potential to change lives, create better living conditions for people, and provide a quality locations for tourists to visit. Director of the Sustainability Institute, Jess Schulschenk, said that leading sustainability was about a holistic and generative approach and that partnerships should be built for positive change. And, she said, it went beyond residents seeing buses full of tourists driving in and out of their community.

Chief executive officer of the Southern African Travel Services, David Frost, said there was still a lot that needed to be done to transform township tourism and that transformation was the most pressing issue in the country. “We wanted to host a tourism event in the township that could accommodate more than 80 people and we could not find any (venue big enough). We ended up using this place and erected tent. This needs to be addressed,” he said.