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This city's brothels, the unwanted stepchildren in the venerable roster of tourist attractions here, would like nothing more than to be brought into the family. And an idea floated by the tourism chief may finally give the ''good'' ones the very imprimatur of legitimacy they crave.
Spurred by the growing number of visitors inquiring about Cape Town's thriving illegal sex trade, the tourism manager here has begun talking not about stamping out prostitution but about helping tourists find safe sex by identifying brothels that are well run.
While the plan isn't likely to land the brothels a plug in the Michelin Guide the businesses are still illegal, after all it would be the closest they could ever come to earning a Good Housekeeping seal of approval. Word of the idea has touched off a predictable stir on radio call-in shows and a spate of headlines about the city's efforts to ''lure'' sex-hungry tourists. But they are missing the point, says Sheryl Ozinsky, Cape Town's tourism manager. But how to do it -- and whether to do it -- is a delicate question in South Africa.
Few countries have been hit harder by AIDS, and anything that might worsen the crisis is met with scrutiny. More than 3. The country hopes that the tourism industry will help drive that economy, and Cape Town is the industry's crown jewel. Set around spectacular Table Mountain and overlooking the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Town has drawn visitors ever since Dutch explorers settled here in the middle of the 17th century.
Today, the city continues to draw more tourists than any other place in the country, tourism officials say. More than brothels, each employing from 5 to 25 women and in a few cases, men , cater to a fair number of those visitors, said Jill Sloan, the director of the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Task Force in Cape Town, known as Sweat.