Renowned for its buzzy cosmopolitan vibe, widely diverse culinary offerings and most notably the vibrant street art, the latest global recognition of Maboneng neighborhood as world-class, livable, and chic space that attracts local and international tourists in June this year by international publishing giant Forbes has been a long time coming.
A connected urban neighborhood in downtown Johannesburg, Maboneng is known for a number of cultural attractions like the Museum of African Design (which focuses on African art, fashion, and culture), Goethe on Main (for contemporary exhibitions) and its art hub, Arts on Main complex, previously a series of abandoned buildings, often blamed for a series of crimes around the city.
Fast forward 2018, it is hard to believe that this once-dreaded Jozi neighborhood now houses some of the trendiest spots to eat, enjoy a sundowner and party like a rockstar come night time. No wonder it’s been dubbed South Africa’s answer to Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
This well deserved feat in Forbes, which saw Gauteng beat its counterparts in big global cities such as London, New York, and Paris was celebrated in grand style on Wednesday the 19 of September at the trendy BBQ Rooftop during an exclusive get-together graced by members of the media, social media influencers and tourism stakeholders within the Gauteng city region.
Reacting to the accomplishment, Gauteng Tourism Acting CEO Yoland Ruiters said: “This is no mean feat for a neighborhood that until not-so-long-ago was suffering urban decay and seen as a crime hotspot.”
She added: “It is even more impressive considering the caliber of alternatives Forbes International would have considered before including Maboneng in its list of top 12 coolest places in the world. The only other South African neighborhood that made it is Kalk Bay in the Western Cape.”
The allure of Gauteng is unrivaled in many ways and Ruiters urges residents not only to become tourists in their own backyards but strive to “become their own champion host” right in time as the province prepares for a record summer festive season. Kicking off a bumper programme for the season this weekend (September 22 and 23, at the Johannesburg’s Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit ) is the annual springtime DStv International Delicious Food Music Festival, followed shortly by the Standard Joy of Jazz’s 21’st edition the following weekend (September 27-29) at the Sandton Convention Centre.
“Research indicates a sizeable portion of arrivals in Gauteng are from visiting friends and relatives. We, therefore, need more and more of our residents visiting and being exposed to exciting spaces in the province such as Maboneng – it is only through familiarising themselves with the destination’s leisure offerings that they would become champion hosts and great Gauteng brand ambassadors,” concluded Ruiters.
More global accolades for Maboneng
During the day-long celebrations, Gauteng Tourism took the opportunity to showcase the breath-taking developments that have made this neighborhood a visitor hotspot. Gauteng Tourism spokesperson Barba Gaoganediwe highlighted other global accolades Maboneng has received in the past, including New York-based magazine Travel voting it in 2015 one of the world’s coolest attractions. It shared the honor with leading international attractions such as Shanghai Tower in Shanghai and Eiffel Towers in Paris.
Several other global establishments have taken notice of the phenomenal transformation that is Maboneng, holding it up as a model for urban renewal. Among them is the United Kingdom’s leading daily newspaper, The Times and BBC Travel, both of whom have given Maboneng extensive editorial coverage.