“Does this Look Like a Slum?” Walking Tours in the Johannesburg Inner City

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Slum tourism is becoming increasingly popular in cities throughout the global South. South Africa has long been a township/slum tourism destination due to the inequalities caused by apartheid. During the later apartheid years and after the fall of apartheid in 1994, the once upmarket financial centre of inner city Johannesburg took a major economic downturn and has since been considered by many a ‘no-go zone’. Since 2012, a number of tour operators have begun to develop walking tours taking visitors into the inner city of Johannesburg. Some research has argued that tourism in Johannesburg’s inner city is a form of slum tourism. However, we argue that the inner city of Johannesburg is diverse, vast and complex, and therefore these walking tours should not necessarily be grouped with the concept of slum tourism. The research to justify this argument is multifaceted. First, definitions of slum tourism are explored against the backdrop of the Johannesburg inner city. Second, in-depth interviews were conducted with five tour operators that run inner city walking tours. Finally, 100 tourists were surveyed to determine their perceptions of inner city Johannesburg and whether or not they consider it to be a slum. The results demonstrate that although some commonalities exist between slum tourism and inner city walking tours, particularly the goal of de-stigmatisation, walking tours in the Johannesburg inner city should, arguably, not be considered a form of slum tourism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-328
Number of pages14
JournalUrban Forum
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • Frenzel
  • Inner city
  • Johannesburg
  • Slum tourism
  • Walking tours

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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