Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, is expected to brief media this week about the safety and security of tourists visiting South Africa.

“We will at the beginning of December, jointly with our stakeholders, announce our Tourism Safety Strategy and the implementation plans as a response to the concerns raised by our key markets,” Kubayi-Ngubane said in a statement.

This echoed an earlier promise made at the SATSA Gauteng year-end dinner when, speaking exclusively to Tourism Update, the Minister highlighted that certain crime hotspots had already been identified and that her department was working with the South African Police Services to ensure additional safety measures in these areas.

At the time of the interview, Kubayi-Ngubane indicated that the press briefing would be held on Thursday, December 5.

Last week, the Minister directly linked the decline in the number of tourists visiting South Africa to concerns about safety and security, with September 2019 figures released by Statistics South Africa revealing that the total number of tourist arrivals (7 562 743) went down by 2.1% (a drop of 164 989) for the period January to September 2019, compared with the same period in 2018 (7 727 732).

“The major impact on the numbers has been the concerns around the safety and security of tourists in our country,” commented the Minister.

Reporting is key

TBSCA CEO, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, told Tourism Update in a recent interview that the tourism industry needed to clean up its image. And that included taking collective responsibility for addressing the scourge of crime which was severely damaging to tourism growth.

“We are working with SATSA, SA Tourism and other key stakeholders and have crafted and costed a strategy to address this,” he said, adding that one of the ways industry could assist was to report crimes against their customers.

“However small it might be, robust reporting provides insight into the types of crimes and where they occur, which could go a long way to helping law enforcement agencies such as the South African Police Services to craft their own, more targeted strategies,” explained Tshivhengwa.

Yet a lack of trust in the SAPS is driving under-reporting, with executive chairman of Dragonfly Africa, Rupert Jeffries, highlighting to Tourism Update that, while he had observed a big police presence at OR Tambo International Airport last week (about 15 individuals), they were all sitting down and doing nothing to, for example,  stop people harassing incoming tourists.

Team effort

Daryl Keywood, MD of Walthers Destination Business Solutions Africa, agreed with Tshivhengwa that a team effort was required. “Certainly the police, local tourism agencies and DMCs/tour operators need to work more closely together,” he said, pointing out that in the past, when Walthers had had a large group participating in a township corporate social responsibility activity, or returning late at night along Cape Town’s N2 highway, they had informed the police station closest to the hotel.

“As a result, we have seen visible signs of increased policing. Cape Town’s Waterfront police station commander is particularly good, sharing the route details with police stations in the relevant areas,” added Keywood.