At the second of its eKasi Sessions with local movers and shakers, township tourism stakeholders asked Cape Town Tourism to market the area’s tourist destinations to attract investors and grow the township economy.
The call was made during an informal discussion at 4Roomed Ekasi Restaurant in Khayelitsha last week, to explore the importance of community engagement in developing tourism opportunities.
The local tourism sector also discussed ways of bringing more visitors to the neighbourhood.
Lack of proper advertising, marketing and insufficient support to up-and-coming tourism enterprises were identified as some of the challenges. Cooperation between business people also emerged as another stumbling block.
Cape Town Tourism chairperson Enver Mally urged businesses in tourism to take advantage of what they had. He called on them to form a group that would sell their products everywhere. He said he would not promise any quick fixes in their challenges but would advise where he could.
“What I do not like to see is an ‘us and them’ kind of an industry where you find township people are doing their own thing while the big fishes are doing their own.
“There is that disconnection between us. I want to find out from you, in your own backyard as to why do we have this disconnection?” he asked.
Mr Mally urged the tourism service providers to grow their network.
“Create something that people do not know, something that would attract them. Collaborate with one another. We are all aware that collaboration is better than isolation,” he said.
He, however, promised to have a meeting between the small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) and the well established tourism companies.
He said the meeting would help create unity in the industry.
Chief executive officer of Cape Town Tourism Enver Duminy said the engagements would continue in other areas and the next one would be in Mitchell’s Plain on a date to be announced.
“We are going around to hear challenges and see what we can change. We are doing this for the benefit of us all. There more we sit together and talk, the more we can understand each other,” said Mr Duminy.
The SMMEs shared how some could not secure finances and how their businesses were ignored.
Many said they were willing to be part of WhatsApp groups to share information with each other.
Those who attended, including the owner of 4Roomed Ekasi Restaurant, Abigail Mbalo, are hoping to create a group to tackle some of the challenges.
Ms Mbalo said it would be great for Khayelitsha to have its own market day, where one big street could be used to promote their businesses.
“The platform has been created now. We need to get us organised. Had it not been for this meeting I would not have known some businesses around here. I have noticed that there is similar energy. We want to see a difference now,” she said.
Township Art Tour’s Juma Mkwela said the industry was inadequately resourced. Lack of infrastructure was another hurdle.
“I wish Cape Town Tourism can help more to help our township. I wish they can come with buses of tourists. We have talent here and it needs to be seen,” he said.
He said there are some opportunities in the local tourism industry that needed to be explored and promoted.
Cape Town Tourism said it would continue to engage with stakeholders to address challenges facing the tourism industry in the province.