The Department of Tourism has earmarked R174.5 million (€8.7m) for the training of over 2 300 tourism safety monitors in South Africa during this financial year.
The monitors will be deployed to all provinces before the peak summer season starts to assist in safeguarding top tourist attractions and national parks.
This was announced by Minister of Tourism, Patricia de Lille, at the launched of the country’s Summer Campaign in the Eastern Cape recently.
“We acknowledge the legitimate concerns that have arisen due to unfortunate incidents involving tourists. We want to provide unequivocal assurance to the public, domestic travellers, and those planning visits to our country in the near future that we are vigorously advancing our efforts to enhance safety for all,” she said.
The tourism safety strategy encompasses a range of initiatives, including substantial investments in technology and human resources.
De Lille’s announcement follows her commitment earlier this year to review the Tourism Monitors Programme which had come to an end in the last financial year.
The Minister said while the initial 2023/24 financial year Departmental budget was allowed for the training of 1 845 Tourism Monitors across the country, she had asked the department to increase the number of monitors to 2 215.
“We have identified, in consultation with the private sector, 59 hotspots across the country. The deployment of Tourism Monitors will be prioritised to service these sites,” said De Lille.
She noted that the government and private sector also had to work “hand-in-hand” with communities in tourist attraction areas to take ownership of their community and understand the value and need to protect the tourist spaces around them. “Communities must understand and be brought on board to help grow tourism in their areas,” she said.
The monitors’ responsibilities include patrolling identified attractions, promoting tourism awareness, providing essential information to tourists, and promptly reporting any criminal incidents to SAPS and other pertinent enforcement agencies.
These young monitors will receive an NQF 3 certification and additional training from the South African Police Service. Their deployment is scheduled for late October to early November, perfectly aligning with the summer tourist season.
“Furthermore, I’m pleased to share that the Department of Tourism now has a representative on the Stability Priority Committee at NatJoints with members from all law enforcement agencies, reinforcing our commitment to safety,” De Lille highlighted.
She said her department had also collaborated with SAPS to develop tourist safety tips, conveniently accessible via a QR-code scan.
These safety tips have also been integrated into the MY-SAPS App for easy reference.
SAPS is actively working on enhancing its app’s features and promoting greater awareness about its availability.
“All these multifaceted measures and collaborations underscore our unwavering commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of all tourists exploring our beautiful nation,” said De Lille.
“In our effort to address the myriad challenges before us, collaboration becomes paramount. The period we are emerging from has imparted a valuable lesson – that through collaborative endeavours, we can achieve the seemingly impossible.
“Competitiveness in our industry hinges on collaborative efforts. Indeed, collaboration has emerged as the driving force for progress.”