It is sometimes speculated that the origin of township tourism started when an enterprising person started hosting tours in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for those tourists who wanted to experience the notorious favelas. Fast forward a few decades and township tourism has become a legitimate and accepted way for tourists to break away from luxury 5-star hotels, albeit for some hours, and go on guided tours through some of the lesser known parts of world cities. In Africa, cities such as Cape Town, Johannesburg and Lagos – are well known for different reasons, yet all of these cities and others globally offer a glimpse into the other side of life, where tourists can see, experience and even socialise with residents of a township, in relative safety. Vilakazi Street in Soweto, Johannesburg is famous and boasts a number of night spots and restaurants where tourists can mingle and get astute of local township life. Cape Town offers Langa, Khayelitsha and Gugulethu, which mostly offer guided tours in the form of walks or cycle rides through various sections, exposing a totally different way of life that international tourists have been exposed to. However, commercialising township tourism extends beyond merely being a voyeur activity for the tourist. “There are certain ways to make township tourism commercially viable. For instance, we know that residents didn’t like that tourists would only drive through the township looking on from their bus windows. We designed something called township visits in conjunction with anthropologists from the Universities of…

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Source: Nomad Africa Magazine