2010 FIFA World Cup™ was never a solution to poverty
“Recent news articles have favoured the sensational rather than fact in decrying the lack of benefit felt by the poor ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™,” says Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold in response to media articles that South Africa’s FIFA World Cup project has failed its citizens.
But, argues Du Toit-Helmbold, the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ was never offered as a golden solution to poverty, saying, “Despite the fact that segregation was de-regulated years ago, socio-economic factors have meant that townships are still very much a part of South Africa’s landscape. Government has been rolling out housing redevelopment programmes and building community infrastructures in townships for some time now and this has certainly made these communities more habitable. But poverty is the legacy of apartheid, as is the removal of people from their natural homes and it is something that government, business and community are still struggling to rise above. The FIFA World Cup has created jobs across a number of sectors but it is not the answer to all our problems.”
Many of the media stories focus on Blikkiesdorp, which has been labelled as anything from a “concentration camp” to a “forced removals solution”. In fact, Blikkiesdorp is a temporary residence for people in housing emergency situations – and includes those who will shortly be given permanent homes. Du Toit-Helmbold acknowledges: “Blikkiesdorp is far from an ideal living space and it does reflect the reality of life for many South Africans. But it is certainly not a comprehensive representation of Cape Town’s townships.”
Township tourism is a vital and exciting part of the Cape Town experience. A township tour was included in 80% of itineraries of the 122 international media groups Cape Town Tourism hosted between January and May 2010. In Cape Town, tours are available in Langa, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Kayamandi and Lwandle, where experienced operators have worked with the resident communities to establish a safe and interesting perspective of everyday life in Cape Town. Interactive and socially attentive, these tours have the community’s buy-in.
Says Du Toit-Helmbold: “Tour operators are very involved in educating residents about the benefits of tourism and do an immense amount of social responsibility work there, negating any notions of exploitation. For many young township dwellers, this exposure to the tourism industry whets their appetite to enter the profession. For others, such as crafters, restaurateurs and musicians, the tours are a lifeline to a livelihood. The 2010 FIFA World Cup™ is not the answer to our problems but, in the long run, the continued growth and sustainability of the tourism sector will go a long way towards helping many people rise above their circumstances.”