Slum tourism as a topic of investigation has seen significant growth since the beginning of this decade with increasing theoretical and empirical depth. With this growth, some inconsistencies in terms of conceptual framing and use of terminology has emerged. The purpose of this paper is to argue against the inaccurate use of the term ‘slum tourism’ for township tourism in South Africa.
This argument is presented through two sections of analysis and debate using Vilakazi precinct in Orlando West, Soweto, as a case study. Firstly, the paper analyses the emergence of township tourism as an academic focus in the literature and how it came to be classified as slum tourism, considering definitional conundrums. Secondly, the empirical data offer the perspectives of 1) residents, who live in and around Vilakazi street, on tourism in their area; and 2) tourists visiting the Vilakazi precinct. The analysis reveals that neither residents nor visitors consider the Vilakazi precinct and the larger area of Orlando West as a slum. The term slum tourism to describe township tourism in Soweto, is therefore inaccurate and inconsistent with the views of residents and visitors.