New ways to grow township tourism

Samantha Mtinini, Camissa Travel operator, is happy that meetings about tourism are finally happening in the townships.

A need to build strong partnerships between small and big tour operators as well as security and access to business were some of the issues discussed during the inaugural eKasi Session, held at Nomzamo Butchery, in Langa, on Thursday July 27.

Perceptions about crime and plans to make townships a safe haven for tourists were also discussed.

The sessions will be held at various neighbourhoods in Cape Town to develop tourism.

The informal sessions are organised by Cape Town Tourism to get the views of people who are in the tourism industry.

The tourism body said the sessions would discuss and explore the importance of community engagement in developing tourism opportunities.

Participants expressed their opinions regarding the importance of tourism and its power to reduce poverty.

Tour operators called for more attention to local communities, as they lacked tourism awareness. It is hoped that this would assist to protect tourists against criminals.

Cape Town Tourism chairperson, Enver Mally, said they wanted to listen to what the industry and business had to say.

He encouraged small tour operators to forge partnerships with big businesses.

He said it would be an achievement if partnerships were made through the meetings.

He emphasised the importance of working in good faith.

“We need to form cooperatives between big and small operators. We need to share business, share work. Let us move away from gripes and moaning. We need to have access in the market. We should work together with the big operators,” he said.

Samantha Mtinini, Camissa Travel operator, praised the way the conversation was handled.

She urged Cape Town Tourism to engage people in their spaces. “These meetings need to come out of Cape Town. Cape Town Tourism need to engage us in our spaces. There are times we feel isolated out here. It is meetings like this that will take our business forward,” she said.

Ms Mtinini said crime was a big turn-off for most tourists in the townships. She proposed an awareness campaign.

“The fact is tourists are being mugged and robbed by our own people. We need to do roadshows and educate these people.”

Protea Tours managing member Lizo Mgobozi felt the media had a hand in wooing tourists away from the townships in the way in which they reported on crimes.

“The choice of words by the media when a robbery of a tourist happens in the township suggests otherwise. I am not saying the media houses are involved, but the way they report about the robbery of tourists in the townships differs. There are times that I think we need to take journalists to tour the townships and see that townships are not what they portray,” he said.