Why township tourism?

If you’ve read some my blog, you know by now that slum- and township tourism are tourism phenomena that interest me a lot. After having experienced my first such tour ever in 2009, I wrote about it from a traveler’s personal point of view here.

After starting my master’s degree in Responsible Tourism Management (RTM) where I learned more about complex tourism mechanisms and impact studies from poor areas globally, I also read a lot more about slum tourism from an academic point of view (which Ive shared here stressing why a Responsible Tourism approach in particular is important in the field of slum tourism), and from the media’s point of view (shared here & here stressing that the phenomenon is a lot more complex than “good or bad”, thus needs solutions for improvement).

Since I started sharing my views on township and slum tourism, I may not have explained thoroughly why I finally chose to research township tourism for my final research project for my Master’s degree. Part from rationalising a little in the posts linked to above. I’ve therefore chosen to copy and paste a little from my final report (that was awarded with a Distinction). It regards the reason for why I finally wanted to study township tourism for my final project.

During a holiday in Cape Town in 2009 I went on a township tour. Not knowing much about tourism to urban impoverished areas at the time, but concerned about how the communities would benefit from my visit, I looked for an ethical company I could trust. To my positive surprise I found out that not only tour companies, but also the government’s tourism body assure that tourism is beneficial to the township communities as well as very educational for the visitor.

Any specific initiatives were not indicated, yet tours were promoted as a ‘must’ to learn about African culture. I decided to book a tour with a small local company and liked the experience as it was indeed eye-opening and the residents I met were welcoming. However, ever since I was unable to stop thinking about what is in it for local populations.

Therefore, three years later, the choice of subject for my final research project during the Master’s program Responsible Tourism Management was easy. I went to Cape Town to investigate the scope of community beneficial initiatives within township tourism. During the 4 weeks of fieldwork in the townships Langa and Khayelitsha I explored six tour operators’ actions and opinions related to previously identified issues of concerns in the field of slum tourism, by interviewing them about their responsible practices and participating on their tours. I also interviewed forty inhabitants from the most visited areas about their perceptions of tourism impacts and four representatives from the local government about current work on responsible tourism in the field.

Now that Ive got good feedback on my report and Ive agreed on it being available online, Ill also soon reveal some of the findings from my research for you. They are important and should be interesting to people far outside of the Academic field too.

Read about the key findings from my research here.

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One comment

  1. Pingback: Key findings from my Master’s research | The Gipsy Giraffe

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