Township tourism, first took off after the first post-Apartheid elections in 1994 and it is becoming increasingly more popular, as visitors to the country look for a more ‘authentic’ experience, away from game reserves and the usual breathtaking scenery. Like any form of community tourism, township tours are led by the people who live there.

This brand of tourism helps boost the economy of culture dense areas and communities. It helps strengthen and grow the social impact in an area or community. It also helps establish as well as reaffirms and reinforces the identity of the place and the people who live thereby promoting and building a positive image of the place, the culture and its people. @Nuz Township Tourism @DbnTourism @DurbanWestTourism

Township tourism also helps to preserve and protect the cultural and historical heritage of a place by fostering harmony and understanding among people with culture being the instrument to facilitate this. 

Most township tours include guided walks through the township, as well as visits to places of interest, including township schools, restaurants, and sites dedicated to people and events pivotal in the struggle against apartheid.


However, more important than the economic benefits is that this brand of tourism opens visitor’s eyes to the reality of the living conditions of much of our population, and the urgent need for its amelioration. At the same time, it shows them a place not just full of poverty and strife, but also full of energy, culture, and hope for the future.

Although not all townships in South Africa offer this kind of tourism. Umlazi which is one of the country’s biggest townships is said to epitomise the essence of “African-ness” with its camaraderie, vibrant culture and pulsating energy. Umlazi presents tourists with unparalleled opportunities to experience authentic Zulu and African cultures first-hand, through fascinating traditional Zulu cultural and township tours.

According to Portia Mkhize from the Umlazi Township Tourism (UTT), Umlazi’s diverse community makes it a vibrant melting pot to many cultures.

“Tourism, in particular, is a means of developing our local economy and with the support of eThekwini municipality, we have successfully hosted many international and local tourists in our township. Our people are hospitable and we also have world-class tourist establishments and in addition to that we are developing a six thousand sitter amphitheater, to accommodate numerous and exciting cultural activities,” she said.

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