An amount of R40 million (€2.4m) has been set aside from TOMSA levy collections for the implementation of South Africa’s new “workable” Tourism Safety Plan that was jointly launched by the Minister of Tourism, Mmamaloka Kubayi-Ngubane and the police minister, Bheki Cele, earlier today.

Addressing media during a press conference in Pretoria, Kubayi-Ngubane announced that a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed between the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Department of Tourism to collaborate toward the common goal of addressing crime and ensuring tourism safety.

She highlighted that the safety strategy had been developed in close consultation with tourism stakeholders, including the airlines, the rail sector and accommodation establishments as well as the SAPS and the Minister of Police.

“Accordingly, our Tourism Safety Plan includes proactive preventative measures, responsive measures that will ensure a quick operational response in the event of an incident and, most importantly, an aftercare programme that focuses on victim support,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.

Cele agreed that a more focused, preventative approach was needed, highlighting that the roll-out of the Tourism Safety Plan was geared towards prevention in all nine provinces.

“Tomorrow we also officially deploy 5 010 new police officers to join the SAPS ranks, and some of these will be sent to the tourism hotspots we have identified.”

Other festive season tourism safety measures include the deployment of private security guards at private tourism establishments. “These guards will work closely with SAPS,” said Cele.

Police Commissioner, General John Sithole, added that a dedicated Tourism Safety Task Team had been set up in collaboration with the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa to ensure a speedy investigative and prosecuting process, particularly for inbound tourists who need to fly back home.

He said this was part of the immediate measures that would be implemented ahead of the festive season. “In the medium to long term we are looking at training the current tourism monitors to be safety and security monitors as well.

“They will be taught, amongst others, how to use a firearm and will be the on-the-ground champions of tourism protection,” said Sithole, adding that they would work as part of a Reserve Tourism Police force.

Kubayi-Ngubane said several new tourism monitors would also be deployed to national parks, national botanical gardens and at several attractions throughout the country.

“Part of their training will be around safety and security but we will also educate them about the tourism industry so they are properly sensitised around the daily operational challenges faced by this sector.”

Speaking to Tourism Update on the sidelines of the press conference, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, said it was extremely encouraging to see this major obstacle to tourism growth being addressed at such a high level.

“This strategy goes a long way toward us, as a sector, reaching the goal of attracting 21 million inbound tourists by 2030.” He said he believed the measures taken would give tourism operators the confidence to keep selling South Africa as a destination.

“And it gives our local tourism businesses the confidence to attract tourists here.”