AT the launch of the Sobantu Tourism Experience last Thursday, Pietermaritzburg Tourism Director Dumisani Mhlongo said they want to change the way people think about townships through tourism. Speaking to community members at the Sobantu Community Hall, Mhlongo said they want to change the perception that townships are not safe, starting with the Sobantu Tourism Experience.“With Sobantu being one of the oldest townships in South Africa, it has a lot to offer in terms of tourism experience and growing the local economy. “This is about showcasing culture, history and the heritage that Sobantu enriches. “Apart from changing perceptions and stereotypes about township life and people, township tourism has a major role to play in the local economy. Through the growing tourism sector, townships have become more accessible and opportunities have opened up for black South Africans,” he said. Mhlongo said launching the Sobantu Tourism Experience was like a dream come true for Pietermaritzburg Tourism.“This is the beginning. From here we are going to succeed and we will take this programme and put it on another level. We want this programme to be led by the local people from Sobantu.“Townships like Soweto, Langa, Khayelitsha, and Gugulethu have done well in terms of township tourism, I do not see why Sobantu will not be able to do it. All these townships have one thing common — their proximity to cities as they were set up as a mechanism to provide labour to the economies of cities in those areas,” said Mhlongo.