The marine accident in Cape Town recently, involving a seal watching cruise from Hout Bay made international headlines. While the loss of life was tragic, much credit is due to the local emergency services and tourist assistance programmes for the way the incident was handled, and the fact that it was once again demonstrated that South Africa has the capacity to deal with incidents of any kind involving visitors to our shore and local tourists.
So where did the Tourism Safety Initiative (tsi) fit into this pattern of events? Because, indeed, tsi played an important role in collecting, co-ordinating and sending out information to the relevant parties involved, writes Annelie Barkema, Project Leader of tsi.
At about 4:30p.m. on the Saturday afternoon, tsi received information from Jermaine Craig of South African Tourism that a boat had capsized in the sea off Cape Town at 2.15 p.m. A call was made by tsi to the SAPS Provincial War Room to verify whether any tourists were involved. At that time, no information was available, as the rescue operation was still under way.
To get more details, tsi called the National Sea Rescue Institute to get the facts. They confirmed that overseas as well as local tourists were involved; they had details of nationalities, and relevant consulates were being informed.
tsi then notified all relevant tourism leaders and media liaison officers – national, provincial and local, to ensure that all concerned parties were involved, and could obtain necessary information. Parties not directly involved were kept informed throughout the duration of the incident.
Local tourism bodies, who together run the Tourist Safety and Support programme, were contacted to ensure that they could work together, and that information was passed along to other bodies so that there was no wasteful duplication of effort.
tsi, as a knowledge and resource centre, kept all parties in touch and informed during the rescue and afterwards.
While not directly involved in this incident, tsi was able to contribute significantly.
To report any incident call tsi’s 24/7 support centre on: +27 (0)861 874 911 or complete an Incident Report form at: http//:www.Tourism.Safety.co.za