Following a number of high-profile murders, the Department of Tourism says it is working on a number of projects to ensure the safety of tourists in South Africa.
In a statement on Monday (5 August), the department said that crime directed at tourists creates a negative perception and reputation about the country, and in turn impacts both the visitor experience and visitor numbers.
“Despite the few isolated incidents which paint South Africa negatively, our country Africa remains a preferred destination for weddings, honeymooners, lifestyle, music and cultural events as well as filming industry with most of these drawing significant numbers of female travellers,” it said.
“We will always stand ready to welcome visitors to the country where they will enjoy our hospitality and diversity.”
To combat this, the department said that it would:
- Identify and analyse key tourism hotspots;
- Establish a database of crime against tourists;
- Enhance crime prevention initiatives;
- Ensure the joint implementation of an optimised policing and security strategy in the tourism environment.
“We are confident that through endeavours by numerous partners, including community safety initiatives, we are working around the clock to initiate countermeasures in the immediate term, as we consolidate our tourism safety strategy, the department said.
“We are, as a country, fast-tracking the adoption as a matter of urgency practical measures to promote the safety and security of travellers and tourists.”
The department said that some of these measures would include:
- The gathering of comprehensive statistics and research that result in reliable information and data suitable for risk assessment by decision-makers and policy-makers;
- The training and education of travel employees and private and public sector service personnel in their role as guardians responsible for protecting the basic right of safe travel by all citizens of the world;
- The development of private/public sector partnerships in the facilitation of safety-conscious travel and in ensuring the growth of the national economy;
- The implementation of programmes of emergency services for travellers and tourists in need in order to assist them and, in the event of crime, to permit the successful prosecution of offenders at the least possible burden to the victims;
- The allocation of adequate resources to the courts, the police and public and private security forces for the protection and general well-being of travellers and tourists.
“This process – in response to the concern that has been raised by those who want to visit our country that they would like the issue of safety to be given attention – is already at an advanced stage,” the department said.
“We encourage tourists and local travellers to maintain awareness of their surroundings at all times.”