Exploring Maboneng as an International Urban Tourism Attraction within Johannesburg

Murtagh, Rory
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University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Maboneng has become a prominent and valuable urban tourism destination in Johannesburg and with the positive and growing impacts and influences that tourism could have on Johannesburg’s inner city as a whole there is a dire need to find out how international tourists has contributed to the UR project, specifically the social and economic dynamics. Tourism is a massive component of what drives our economy on a national scale. Other than how tourists contribute to and impact the area there is also a necessity to figure out why it is that tourists are attracted to areas like Maboneng, the fact that we do not know intrinsically what these attractive components are poses a problem in trying to maximise on these tourism elements in the future. There is a need to find out from the tourists perspective as well as the developers and relevant parties. Urban tourism is a fundamental component of the continued sustainability of the inner city and to know what the detailed attractive components and elements are within the Maboneng urban framework would prove vital for planning and implementing future developments that could draw/learn from this research. Maboneng has been viewed as a precinct that is reminiscent of other international spaces, a homogenous urban environment which is comparable to global cities. There is a need to identify what aspects of Maboneng have been viewed as such (urban design, buildings, art, culture, and atmosphere) and how have these international ‘ideas’ contributed to the development of Maboneng. It is crucial that we find out if tourists view Maboneng as a homogenous space and what aspects have made them feel that way. These international examples and ideas taken from other international contexts are crucial to understanding how we as planners can either utilize these international examples as a means to adopt them further or to use them as an indicator or contributor to strengthen the South African example and identity. This leads to the next potential problem which is that of authenticity that is embodied in the ‘Africaness’1 of Maboneng, if that aspect, if present, is an attraction in itself. It is imperative that we find out what Maboneng represents as an urban city area precinct, to figure out if it is portrays an authentic African city, that it exemplifies and allows tourists to engage with an authentically African experience that makes Maboneng unique and original. It is essential that we promote tourism as far as possible but we also need to bear in mind what affects these tourists are having on our home soil (South Africa) so that we may be better prepared to handle the positive and negative aspects that might arise. There is a dire need to grapple with the underlying issues that this report might represent and use this information accordingly to plan and strategize better for urban tourism provision and support in the inner city of Johannesburg. 1 Africaness refers to how a place reflects or portrays the African culture, lifestyle and African identity within space.
Planning Honours Report 2015, Wits University
Maboneng, tourism, Johannesburg, economy, international, developers, identity
Murtagh, R (2015). Exploring Maboneng as an International Urban Tourism Attraction within Johannesburg, Johannesburg