Markets of Warwick Wins a Mayor’s Award for Excellence!

By Tasmi Quazi

On Friday evening of 7th December 2012, a significant moment and victorious closure to the year was realised for the Markets of Warwick Committee, the informal trading community of Warwick Junction in general, including Asiye eTafuleni (AeT). It was when the Markets of Warwick project received a Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in the tourism category. This is just two and a half years of the project being set-up and having enjoyed the traffic of over 3200 international and local visitors.

The award banquet was held at Durban’s International Convention Centre where a number of shortlisted projects and individuals were in attendance, nominated under different award categories such as ‘tourism’, ‘formal business’ and ‘icon of democracy’. This was the 17th year that the eThekwini Municipality Mayoral Awards has been running. Although the Markets of Warwick tour was not the overall winner of the tourism category, it received a runners-up trophy and cash prize.

The recognition was heartily received by the informal traders from the various markets of Warwick Junction as they cheered in celebration and posed with the trophy. To see all the pictures, click here. Trader tour guide Jabulani Sambo had this to say:

I am very proud as a Markets of Warwick Tour guide that we have received this award. It is a great recognition for us and the work that we do. I think that this award will bring further recognition locally and internationally. We didn’t expect this from the City, but are very happy because we can now engage with them to support us in further developing this tour.”

Traders Against Crime (TAC) member Zakhele Khomo added, “We have worked hard this year, it is good to be recognised for the work that we have done.”

Looking back, the Markets of Warwick was initiated as a community-based tourism project in 2010 by the local traders in the Warwick Junction vicinity. It began with the seeding of a community structure, the Markets of Warwick Committee, comprising local traders representing different informal sectors, with the facilitation support of AeT. The committee subsequently developed branding for the project, engaged first aid training, cleaning campaigns and nominated local traders to undergo accredited tour-guide training in order to run the tours themselves. Last but not least, the traders’ organisation, TAC, was reinvigorated to assist with security during the tours.

Consequently, the tours have attracted various visitors such as local government officials, development practitioners, academics, tourists, tertiary education students and even corporates as part of their diversity training. Furthermore, the project developed a custom-designed tour for High School learners as a component of the Grade 12 Geography Curriculum. These have been extremely popular, being visited by nearly all the major private high schools in the province, including public ones.

By sharing and celebrating the endemic energy of the inner-city’s informal economy, this project has sought to bring about social transformation though changing people’s perceptions towards the inner-city’s informal economy. Read some of the reflections of the reformed, here. As a result of the influx of tourists in the area, the interactions between people of different races, cultures, generations and classes has stimulated social healing and been restorative of the damage of the apartheid past. This was when informal trading was considered an illegal activity and faced exclusion and brutality by city officials.

Furthermore, the influx of visitors have contributed to boosting the local economy with a growing demand for this authentic African experience, and contributing to a larger and more sustainable trading community. With so many positive outcomes, this project has therefore become a community and city tourism asset. This was affirmed by Shamantha Moodley, the Kwazulu-Natal Provincial Manager of Tourism Enterprise Partnership who nominated the Project for the Mayoral awards saying, “(It is a) strong local tourism product that is truly representative of Durban’s culture and heritage”.

The positive media attention it has been receiving is also testament to this. To read some, click on the links below:

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