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Rethinking township tourism: Towards responsible tourism development in South African townships


  • Irma Booyens


Township tourism in South Africa has grown in popularity since 1994 and is considered by some to be an appropriate mechanism for stimulating local economic development. This paper suggests, however, that it is not necessarily a viable or responsible development option, since it does not automatically ensure pro-poor benefits or enhance community development. Primary research conducted in Soweto to understand visitor demand and tourism stakeholder perspectives suggests there is a demand for responsible tourism in townships. The paper contributes to South African debates about the developmental role of tourism, township tourism and local economic development, responsible tourism, and the related policy implications. It calls for responsible township tourism development in which local authorities play a vital role and recommends the development of township tourism attractions, with a focus on culture and heritage, to create unique visitor experiences.

Suggested Citation

  • Irma Booyens, 2010. "Rethinking township tourism: Towards responsible tourism development in South African townships," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(2), pages 273-287.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:27:y:2010:i:2:p:273-287
    DOI: 10.1080/03768351003740795

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    Cited by:

    1. Rogerson Christian M., 2014. "Rethinking slum tourism: tourism in South Africa’s rural slumlands," Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series, De Gruyter Open, vol. 26(26), pages 1-16, December.
    2. Merwe Clinton David van der, 2016. "Tourist guides’ perceptions of cultural heritage tourism in South Africa," Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series, De Gruyter Open, vol. 34(34), pages 117-130, December.


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