Have you ever had a bad experience while staying at a travel destination? I’m referring specifically to things like theft, unforeseen damage to your car, hijackings on arrival… Things you most definitely don’t expect.
I recently had a bad experience while visiting Zanzibar. On arrival we were in awe of the white beaches, stunning views and locals fitting their roles perfectly. I always love to see how locals complete a destination. The lodge consisted of a few chalets built around a restaurant and with a view like this, who could complain?
The chalets were primitive, but given the country’s third world status and the fact that I’ve never been, I had nothing else to compare it with other than a two-man tent in Zambia. There were shutters in front of the wire-gauze windows and the chalet door could not lock properly. I later found it funny that I wasn’t taken by surprise, only to realize that we all go on holiday mainly to escape reality. Locking our doors, switching on home alarm systems – these are our realities. We don’t expect this reality to follow us to places we’ve only seen in magazine pictures.
When my sister and I (she was my room mate for the night – thank goodness!) woke up from a knocking sound like someone trying to break an entry that evening, my whole body went cold. My sister, exactly my opposite, screamed. (I froze completely). We lay there, waiting for something to happen, not saying a word. Then a flashlight shone into the chalet from the side window. My sister screamed again and we heard them run away. Then I remembered: My camera! And so it was. They used a blade to cut a whole into the gauze window and stole my camera from right under our noses while we were fast asleep. They were kind enough to leave the CD with the camera’s software.
After a while we realized that we had to tell someone or find a security guard or someone. Pity there were no security. No lodge manager either.
When the sun came up, the pool cleaner assisted us in getting hold of the manager who called the police. Unfortunately the camera thieves were already long gone and I had to cope without a camera for the next week! To make matters worse, the police had to be fetched in town, as they did not have transport and we waited for them for three hours if not longer.
Have you ever considered that security at your lodge is not a luxury, but a necessity?
Zanzibar might be a third-world country, but many of its lodges are owned by millionaires from all over the globe. Rather appoint proper security for your lodge than have people like me write about your bad security to the world. Also keep in mind that this might have happened to me in Zanzibar, but I know of similar scenarios in South Africa too.
Travellers want to feel safe. They visit places that they believe could be a home away from home. If we want to keep our tourists, we need to keep them safe.