A recent attack on a group of German tourists that lead to one passing outside Kruger National Park has made the rounds of the press both in South Africa and the world raising concern over the safety of tourists in the country.

The Department of Tourism has subsequently put forward a number of initiatives to protect tourists in the country better and prevent crimes that directly target or affect them.

During a standing committee with Parliament, the department said that in light of the up-and-coming festive season, it would launch the Festive Season Saftey Awareness campaign in early November.

Under this campaign, the department of tourism will engage with the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) to try and acquire space on TVs across airports. On the screen, a recorded message presented by the minister of tourism Lindiwe Sisulu would air, spouting safety advice to tourists entering the country.

The department has further shared amongst the tourism industry the processes on what to do to call up police reservists when there is a safety issue. It added that this summer festive season, it would collaborate with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to ensure that there is a visible police presence.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) will be further engaged with, said the department. Access to the programme for Embassy briefings is being sought after, whereby ministers can update foreign ambassadors based in South Africa on tourist safety plans and initiatives that will be implemented.

Speaking within the broader context of crime prevention strategies for tourists in South Africa, beyond just the festive season, Sisulu said: “We do want to revive the concept of a tourist police sector so that we are certain we are looking after people we invite into our country.”

She said that there is a serious need to ensure the safety of tourists. A further safety measure that could become the norm in airports is the deployment of young people who will be situated at points of travel to advise people on safety measures.

According to the department, this would fall under the Tourism Monitors Programme (TMP), and there are roughly 2,200 employees so far.

In light of the recent spate of attacks on visitors en route to the park, the CEO of the South African National Parks (SANParks) has urged tourists considering visiting the Kruger National Park to use alternative entrances into the park –

Sello said that with the tourism industry currently recovering from the pandemic, such incidents undermine the marketing efforts of tourism stakeholders

Some further proposals under the National Tourism Safety Strategy include:

  • The collection of more data when a crime is reported to indicate whether a victim is a tourist
  • The fast-tracking of cases involving international tourists, possibly the establishing of magistrates on standby to deal with tourist cases specifically
  • Establishment of better communication channels between tourism stakeholders with regard to safety-related issues
  • Conduct roadblocks across busy tourist roads and provide safety tips to passing motorists
  • Go into communities that surround key attractions and teach them about the importance and benefits of tourism.

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