“With limited resources, the new concept didn’t do well. Some tourists were not confident enough to visit the township, while others were not sure of how ethical the tour was. My struggles forced me to close down the business in 2008,” recalls Ndukwana.
Ndukwana says after the failure, she decided to rebranded her business in 2009 to Laura’s Township Tours with the help of Tripadvisor and Lonely Planet. “I started doing tours with a social responsibility angle, exposing tourists to projects like the Nondzame Educare Centre, which I started in 2006, says Ndukwana.
Ndukwana says that the Fifa World Cup gave her the break she needed, because visitors were interested in township tours with a social responsibility angle. “Fifa gave me a call and wanted to do a story on how the World Cup would impact local businesses and communities,” says Ndukwana.
Laura’s tour gives tourists a view of three of Cape Town’s oldest townships (Langa, Gugulethu and Nyanga), her own life story and social responsibility work in Gugulethu, day-to-day hardships and success stories.
“My tour angle set me apart from others, giving me the competitive edge over big companies. Some 100 tourists per month choose to do tours with a local entrepreneur who is ethical and sensitive to township issues. I now employ three full-time staff members,” says Ndukwana. The company’s annual turnover is R700 000.
Ndukwana says that tourism is influenced by social ills, like the rate of unemployment, which drives many people to crime. This means it is increasingly difficult to bring tourists to the townships.
“2018 will be my 20th and final year in tourism. I want to run an international kindergarten in the township, bringing quality pre-school education to township children,” says Ndukwana.
Ndukwana says that in her 19 years in the tourism industry, she has never being late. “My experience in the business taught me that Europeans love coming to Africa for an African experience, not for ‘African time’. Always be on time,” she advises.