For the second year in a row, the beloved Afropunk Fest is making its way to Johannesburg, South Africa. With major acts like Kaytranada, Big Freedia and Thundercat headlining the show, people from all over are coming for this festival, whih means they need somewhere to stay.
Curiocity is a new brand of hostels and hotels that is quickly becoming the go-to spot for travelers visiting the African country. With inexpensive rates, welcoming accommodations and locations in Johannesburg and Durban, Curiocity is perfect for music lovers attending the annual showcase. TN talked to Curiocity founder and CEO, Bheki Dube, about the brand and why it’s important to make a permanent mark.
Travel Noire: How did the idea for Curiocity start?
Bheki: It all begins with one word. Storytelling. We are descendants of African Jali (storytellers, poets) and Curiocity is an extended version of youth trying to share the stories of the cities that we are in. So the idea of Curiocity was born. The idea was entrenched from a very young age, however, I opened the doors in November 2013 after I had been doing walking tours of the city of gold, (Johannesburg) I started realizing that people were not just interested in coming to the city to look at art, have a coffee and fly off. They were also interested in staying and having lasting experiences of the city. So I thought why not grow the model, have people take part in our tours but also stay with us.
Travel Noire: What are some key features Curiocity has over other hostel properties?
Bheki: We are cultured, and culture cannot be manipulated and that’s what other properties don’t have: a truly urban African experience. We tick all the boxes. We have dorm rooms, standard double rooms, premium en-suite rooms that are accompanied by great co-living facilities (bar, restaurant, communal kitchen, lounge areas, co-working spaces) for the digital nomads and we are well positioned in the neighborhoods we choose to have a Curiocity.
Travel Noire: The hostel culture is starting to take over the hospitality industry. Why do you think they have become so popular over the last year or two?
Bheki: Hostels have become popular because they offer a great investment opportunity, they have a low-cost high-value model. That’s why a brand like Hilton are also starting to tap into this segment. The rise of millennial travelers has also made the hostel offering popular, travelers these days are interested in experience-based offerings than just a bed & hostel offer loads of experiences.
Travel Noire: Afropunk is coming to South Africa. Are you looking forward to the experiences your guests will have?
Bheki: Yes, we are ready! We have jam-packed itineraries for patrons coming to Afropunk including tailor-made experiences for the actual Afropunk team, from Soweto township experiences to Nirox Sculpture park visits & African dining immersions.
Travel Noire: There has been a rise in African travel. Do you think the stigma of traveling out there has been broken?
Bheki: We have seen a huge trend from USA travel groups breaking the negative stigma that many have on Africa and bringing large groups into “the motherland.” It must be Black Panther, hahaha! People are starting to realize that traveling to Africa is accessible and with neighborhoods like Maboneng in Joburg, we have been able to provide foundations and spaces that are safe to explore Africa.
Travel Noire: Where is Curiocity going in the next five years?
Bheki: We have a mid and long-term African expansion strategy. The year 2019 will see us open our next location in Capetown, South Africa and really creating a black integrated destination in the mother city. We have also locked in a site in the Kruger national park that we will be announced mid-2019. The rest of Africa, we are still in talks with local partners, and we hope to have our first hostel outside South Africa by the year 2020.
Afropunk takes place on New Year’s Eve.