Safety first approach from South African Tourism
by Steve Hartridge
A South African Tourism roadshow that visited several European countries arrived in London this week for a series of talks and events with the trade and media.
The initiative, a first overseas collaboration between the tourist board and The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) which represents the private sector, included a round-table discussion forum and a cocktail event at the South African High Commission.
“The idea was for us to provide both updates on key issues impacting on tourism to South Africa and listen to our key trade partners, particularly pertaining to any barriers or hurdles they have in selling the country,” said Sthembiso Dlamini, Chief Operating Officer for South African Tourism.
“Key decision-makers shared their perceptions of South Africa with us and we presented them with news of initiatives and other strategic ways we have to help us all attract more visitors to the country,” she added.
An oft-mentioned subject was high crime rate and the safety of tourists, admitted Dlamini. These concerns have been reignited in recent months by the killing of a tourist on a walking trail in Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town and a spate of other incidents.
In response, over 1,400 ‘tourism safety monitors’ - youths aged from 18-35 - have been deployed at spots popular with tourists, including 69 recruits at in the past two weeks.
The Tourism Safety Monitors Programme - a R52.7 million initiative that falls under the National Tourism Safety Awareness Campaign – was introduced in late 2017 to bolster security at places such as Table Mountain and Vilakazi Street and Carlton Centre in Johannesburg.
There are also plans to introduce a mobile app that will help visitors to safely navigate their way around the country. The safety app, announced recently in South Africa by Tourism Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, is due to be launched as a pilot scheme in December. It will provide tourists with basic tourism information and safety tips with relevant contact details that tourists in distress can use.
“This (European roadshow) is a ground-breaking initiative for us and the first time TBCSA has been involved with SAT on a mission such as this,” said Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, Chief Executive Officer at Tourism Business Council of South Africa.
“Tourism is critical to our country’s economic development and our sustainable growth; it contributes massively to trade and foreign earnings and sustains around 700,000 direct jobs.”
Tshivhengwa said that the country is planning a major tourism summit in 2020 that would see all nine of the country’s provinces come together to discuss the ‘key tourism issues’.
“High on the agenda would be strategies to encourage tourists to visit the lesser-known provinces such as North West Free State and Northern Cape,” he said.
South Africa, which welcomed 10.5-million tourists last year, hopes to double that to 21 million visitors by 2030. Around 430,000 Brits visited in 2018 – more than 55% of Brits who visit the country will make a return visit at some point.