A taste of township life

2013-06-05 15:41
It's time to take a fresh look at hospitality, local township hospitality that is. Although there are challenges in as far as luring guests to taste township hospitality, these B&B's continue to grow in leaps and bounds.

Seeing tourist guide buses driving past her house inspired the late Vicky Ntozini to approach the City of Cape Town Tourism office to open one of the first and what is now one of the best Bed and Breakfasts in Khayelitsha, Vicky's B&B.

Not formally educated, Vicky was faced with the challenge of getting local residents to see the opening of a B&B as an opportunity to benefit all. It didn't help that residents thought it could only mean trouble when they saw tourists and guests stopping by at her house. She overcame this by including them in the project, a sought if learning through practical experience.
After 15 years in the business, Ntozini died in an unfortunate family incident, when her career was at its peak. But her daughter Landiswa Ntozini, who took over where her late mother left off, is confident the legacy will go on. She believes attracting local as well as foreign visitors will keep the business booming.

Sadly missed, Vicky Ntozini, the late founder of Vicky's B&B                                                     (Vicky's B&B)

"We see very few local tourists coming to stay in our B&B’s compared to foreign guests and that is still a challenge for us. However, I foresee a bright future for township businesses like us,” says Ntozini.

Vicky’s B&B boasts two double en suite and exquisitely furnished rooms, three twin and two separate bathrooms with a spacious lounge upstairs where guests can have a picturesque view of the township while enjoying dinner or breakfast.

“One of the German guests stayed for an entire year with us and he took charge of cleaning, fixing and helping us with groceries as well as cooking or baking. This is the funniest moment of our lives in this business as our local (Xhosa) men continue to have a different view of it,” concludes Ntozini.

Home away from home, tourists from Europe enjoying their stay at Vicky's B&B                      (Vicky's B&B)

The owner of Lungi's B&B is another example of a township tourism entrepreneur. This woman from Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape took cleaning and hosting visitors for 13 years at her day job in Sea Point as an opportunity to launch what is now known as one of the most loved Bed and Breakfasts spots in Khayelitsha.

Nomalungelo Pango opened Lungi’s B&B just before the FIFA 2010 World Cup and the rest is history.  “Opening Lungi’s B&B wasn’t an easy path to success as there were issues with finances to buy this plot and with the support of one of my friends from Holland, I managed to build and establish this place,” says Pango.

Nomalungelo Pango with some of her visitors enjoying a chat                                              (Lungi's B&B)
Without challenges, Lungi’s B&B wouldn’t be what is today, Pango said, reflecting on what was a kind of paranoia by the community and the neighbours at large.

“The community was not comfortable to see white tourists from Europe express their fascination in the township through taking photographs and mingling with the community, especially the children. They thought I’m bringing journalists without their consent and it took time for them to acknowledge this idea but they later came to me and apologised. I can tell you now that things are running smoothly and whenever there are visitors from overseas, they feel at home,” says Pango.

Lungi’s B&B started off with two guest rooms, she now has three but she still dreams of seeing her business getting bigger and better. To do that she says local visitors must not overlook local or township tourism. She has hosted many foreign tourists but she has only had two from Johannesburg when they were here for the Jazz Festival a year ago.

Lungi's B&B has something in store for you, pure township comfort                           (Phumzile Ngcatshe)

Hosting a German couple who hosted their wedding at her B&B is a phenomenal career highlight but an incident involving a guests from Ireland who brought her a special drink certainly stands out.

“A guest from Ireland brought me a drink and asked me to taste it, it really smelled sweet and nice. I kept drinking until it was time to check my pots, to my amazement, I couldn’t stand up and walk, I was too drunk,” Pango says.

It was one of the funniest moments in my career.

Try a taste of township life and hospitality is something worth exploring...

What to do in Khayelitsha:

Umqombothi (traditional beer tasting from a local brewer)
Experience and learn traditional dancing
A trip to township barbeque stand (Town Two Embengweni)

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