As the province heads into peak tourism season, partners in the Western Cape’s tourism industry have committed to work together to ensure that tourism safety is a priority.
The Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) hosted the Tourism Safety Forum on Friday (December 7) with the objective of engaging on matters relating to tourist safety and security.
Representatives of the tourism industry shared new information and ideas as well progress on various awareness initiatives and campaigns that aim to amplify safety protocols and security measures at tourist attractions and leisure areas across the Western Cape.
Central to the discussion was the call for increased collaboration to establish an efficient and sustainable safety network capable of meeting the safety needs of both domestic and international tourists visiting the Western Cape.
Minister of Economic Opportunities, Beverley Schäfer, said: “The tourism industry plays an important role in the economy of the province and is responsible for the creation of over 300 000 direct and indirect jobs. Safety is an important element in any tourist’s choice of holiday destination, and a successful tourism experience depends on a safe environment. Working together with all our partners, we want to deliver a safe, memorable season for all.”
DEDAT offers 24-hour assistance to visitors who may be in distress during their stay in the Western Cape, through the Tourism Safety Support Programme (TSSP). The programme also runs an extensive ‘Travel Tips for Visitors’ awareness campaign.
Deputy Director of Tourism Safety, Akanksha Malik-Nair, encouraged all partners to increase engagement, communication and collaboration. She pointed to partnership successes like the ATM fraud prevention programme, operated by DEDAT and the Department of Community Safety with the help of industry stakeholders, which aims to protect tourists from criminal syndicates operating at ATMs.
“The tourism industry showed us the value of working together during the water crisis, and I believe, that a similar approach on issues of tourist safety, and now also around energy security, will help us develop contingency plans and resilience, which will strengthen our tourism industry,” said Schäfer.
South African National Parks Senior Section Manager, Jaclyn Smith, said they were committed to tourist safety and security. With Table Mountain National Park drawing high tourist numbers, additional seasonal employees have been appointed to meet safety and security demand. In addition, fire units will be deployed at strategic points and shuttle services at high-congestion points will be made available.
CEO of Cape Town Tourism, Enver Duminy, said the industry needed to “take advantage of existing safety measures and networks… collaborate toward improving these systems rather than looking for entirely new solutions”.
Director of Law Enforcement at the City of Cape Town, Robbie Robberts, assured stakeholders of the city’s preparedness to strengthen safety and security measures through a variety of multi-disciplinary preventative and emergency response initiatives. These include the Festive Season Priority Committee, which will be led by the City of Cape Town.
There are a variety of resources that visitors can contact during their stay in Cape Town and the Western Cape. These include:
- Tourism Safety Officers are available for contact on the following numbers: Cynthia Makweya – 072 447 1504 and Neo Mocumi – 082 554 2010 (Cape Town, Overberg, Winelands, West Coast) and Ilze Jacobs – 082 972 2507 (Garden Route and Karoo). This is part of a tourism safety strategy developed by DEDAT consisting of a forum, enforcement task force, response unit, safety and security technology, communications strategy and partnerships.
- Cape Town Tourism will continue to run its ‘Safety Tips’ campaign and provide a ‘Band-Aid Programme’ to tourists in distress as well as through its toll-free helpline at 086 132 2223.
- The Public Emergency Communications Centre will be on stand-by to provide awareness and trauma counselling through its 24-hour call centre available at 107 (from a landline) and 021- 480 7700 (from a cellphone).