The National Tourism Safety Strategy is aimed at fostering a public-private sector partnership to address issues of tourism safety in a more coordinated manner.
“The measures aim to provide an enhanced visitor experience and in the long-term, change perceptions of South Africa as an unsafe destination,” Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille said on Tuesday.
She was addressing members of the Diplomatic Corps in Pretoria on tourism safety issues.
De Lille explained that the National Tourism Safety Strategy is centered on three key themes which include proactive measures, responsive measures and aftercare programmes.
“It is about putting in place mechanisms to ensure that tourists, both domestic and international, feel safe even before arriving at the destination,” she said, adding that the mechanisms seek to ensure quick and effective turnaround time to attend to tourists in distress should an incident of crime occur.
“This is about stakeholder coordination and communication in terms of messaging and protocols to follow. We have since set up a committee led by the private sector under Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) to develop clear Crisis Management Communications Plan and Protocols.
“This will ensure that there are clear protocols in place during an incident and that the messaging is same,” de Lille said.
The department has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the South African Police Services (SAPS) on collaboration towards the prevention, investigation and combating of crimes impacting on the tourism industry and the safety and well-being of tourists.
“The MoU Action Plan is being implemented through the Tourism Safety Technical Committee comprising of the Department of Tourism and SAPS. The MoU is currently undergoing revision to ensure that other initiatives being implemented with private sector on safety and security are considered and strengthened.
“The action plan incorporates both initiatives identified by the Department and by the South African Police Services and to be handled at a bilateral level,” the Minister said.
The Tourism Monitors Programme (TMP) is part of the broader government intervention that involves training, mentorship and deployment of unemployed youth in identified tourism attractions and sites.
“Government has invested R174 Million for the deployment of Tourism Monitors in this financial year. The key objectives of the programme include: enhancing tourism safety awareness at key tourism attractions and sites, upskilling of unemployed youth and reducing tourist vulnerabilities.”
The Minister said the department will deploy 2 300 Tourism Monitors nationally in entities managed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) Gardens, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Ezemvelo Nature Reserve, in the national parks managed by the South African National Parks (SANParks), and at airports managed by Airports Company South Africa (ACSA).
Google Maps will also no longer suggest a route through crime hotspot Nyanga from the airport. This after an American tourist was directed via GPS to Simon’s Town via Nyanga, where he was attacked and shot. The tourism department and Google signed a collaboration to promote South Africa as a “safe” tourist destination in an effort to boost tourism.