A tourism safety communication response team has been set up to assist the industry and help manage communication around tourism safety in the Western Cape. A full plan will be presented to the industry in the next two weeks, says Wesgro spokesman Russel Brueton.

This comes after two serious crime incidents involving tourists in Cape Town in the last two weeks. Ukrainian tourist, Ivan Ivanov (44), was stabbed to death by three men who also robbed him of his backpack while he was hiking on Saturday morning near East Fort, Hout Bay - a popular tourist spot above Chapman's Peak Drive in the Table Mountain National Park. A man has been arrested and appeared in the Wynberg Magistrates Court on July 29, on charges of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances. In an earlier case, five men were arrested following an armed robbery at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel on July 16.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde says his government views these incidents very seriously and has taken a number of steps: "The Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) and Wesgro, working with the industry, have developed a plan to effectively communicate issues of tourism safety to potential visitors. Our international relations unit will also be scheduling a meeting with the consular corps soon in order to fully brief them on safety issues and to discuss any concerns they may have."

DEDAT and Wesgro are working closely with Fedhasa, SAACI, Satsa, Cape Town Tourism and the City of Cape Town in developing the plan, says Brueton. 

"A survey was conducted last week via the associations, where over 600 responses were received. We are developing FAQs around these responses to assist the industry and developing communication tools such as a dedicated website and digital campaigns aimed at markets most impacted."

Meanwhile, says Brueton, 62 tourism safety ambassadors have been dispatched in the city to advise visitors on safety and security. This follows a successful pilot project that reduced ATM fraud in the CBD during the peak summer season. "The funding from the National Department of Tourism has been transferred to the appointed service provider. In turn, the provider with Sanparks has been training and dispatching tourism safety monitors. We have confirmed that 62 of the 100 have been dispatched."

Brueton was responding to criticism from the Table Mountain Security Action Group - a lobby group of 42 organisations representing hiking clubs, climbers, runners and neighbourhood watches - on the delivery of promises made by the Western Cape government regarding better security in TMNP. 

Brueton says the Table Mountain Security Action Group assisted in developing mountain specific safety tips with DEDAT.  "Some of these tips were incorporated into the Season Readiness Campaign that was run during December 2018. We are currently working on additional collateral for the industry to share with their guests, which will include the safety tips developed with the action group."

Brueton says since DEDAT met with the Table Mountain Security Action Group, tourism safety has, for the first time, been included in the province's Prioritised Crime Committee, "which is a very important step in terms of making good traction". "This move will ensure that better data is collected, a working group will be formed to deal with tourism safety and SAPS and other law enforcement agencies will treat this as a priority. This will be ratified by the ProvJoints Committee (provincial joint operational and intelligence structure) in the next two months."

"The Western Cape and specifically Cape Town is a major, modern cosmopolitan South African city. As such, we would advise travelers to exercise the same level of vigilance they would exercise when visiting any major city in the world.  This includes ensuring you follow basic safety tips such as keeping emergency numbers on hand, avoiding carrying large sums of cash and keeping your valuables safe at all times," he says.