Pretoria, South Africa: The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) has called on the government to step up efforts to uphold the rule of law and address the scourge of crime in the country. The Council believes this will go a long way in creating a safe travel and tourism environment.
The Council made this call following a recent, unfortunate incident, of a business burglary at a hotel situated in the Magoebaskloof area of the Limpopo Province. Whilst it is suspected that tourists were not the main target, one tourist from Peru was affected by the burglary.
Based on feedback received through the Council’s Tourism Safety Initiative (TSI), three suspects entered the hotel premises in the early hours of Thursday morning (28 September 2017). The suspects managed to steal two plasma TV screens, from two rooms which were unoccupied at the time. Regrettably, the third room they entered was occupied by a tourist. However, they managed to steal a third plasma TV screen and the tourist’s bag. The affected tourist was not physically harmed during this incident and most of her belongings were later recovered, except for some cash and a laptop. Police are currently investigating the incident and no arrests have been made as yet.
Expressing his dismay at the incident, TBCSA Board Chairman, Mr Tito Mboweni says “We are utterly shocked by the brazen manner of these attacks against our tourism businesses, which ultimately have an impact on tourists and our sector as a whole. This is a situation we can ill afford given the fact that travel and tourism growth is interconnected with the entire South African economy. Swift action must be taken by the authorities to arrest the perpetrators of these crimes. More significantly we certainly need to do more as a country to step up efforts to root out the scourge of crime. We need to work harder to make South Africa a safe place to live, do business in and to visit”.
The Council is concerned about the repercussions of these crimes on the sector. In particular the traumatic impact it has on the affected tourists and staff in the affected businesses; the overall disruptions in business operations; the lost economic opportunities for trade (direct and indirect) and most significantly the harm these incidents (and the reporting thereof by word of mouth, on social media and other media platforms) poses to South Africa’s international reputation as a world-class and safe tourist destination.
“South Africa has always enjoyed a reputation of having warm, friendly and welcoming people. However recent media coverage of the airport follow-home robberies, the incident involving tourists from The Netherlands, and the recent incident in Limpopo are putting a damper on this reputation and will require urgent attention by all the relevant parties”, Mboweni said.
This follows an incident of theft in September, which involved a group of Dutch tourists who were victims of a hijacking and armed robbery whilst en route to a hotel in Fourways.
In this incident, a bus carrying a group of 36 Dutch tourists, who landed at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Sunday evening (24 September), was stopped at a bogus police roadblock where a ‘SAPS-marked’ vehicle was parked. One of the six alleged robbers was dressed in a ‘SAPS uniform’ while the others were dressed in civilian clothes. They boarded the bus and demanded the passports and valuables from the tourists and the bus driver. One of the tourists suffered injuries and was taken to a hospital. The SAPS is currently investigating the incident and the Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, visited the tour group at their hotel before they flew back to the Netherlands.
“Working together with our industry partners, the TBCSA’s Tourism Safety Initiative (TSI) is an important campaign in communicating the safety and security of all visitors to South Africa. An incident such as this one is most regrettable, particularly since it has occurred during Tourism Month, and as the country was preparing to celebrate World Tourism Day (on 27 September),” stated Mmatšatši Ramawela, the CEO of the TBCSA.
At a media briefing on 27 September, held jointly with the Minister of Tourism, Tokozile Xasa and the Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, both were unambiguous about the seriousness with which this particular incident is treated by the government. “This act of criminality we take it seriously, the actions we will take must serve as a clear sign that criminality will never be tolerated in our country,” said Mbalula.
Following the media briefing, South African Tourism’s Chief Executive Officer, Sisa Ntshona said: “We are deeply saddened by this incident and sincerely apologise to these tourists and the local tour operator team who had to go through this ordeal. It is important for all travellers to feel safe, secure and relaxed when they arrive, travel within and depart from South Africa – that is the promise we make to them and that’s the promise we must keep, collectively as a nation. It is incidents like these that set us back and erode the investments made in positioning South Africa as a desirable tourism destination globally. We will have to work tirelessly hard and smartly to regain the lost confidence.”
Find out more about the Tourism Safety Initiative. Visit www.tbcsa.travel/tourismsafety
The economic value of travel and Tourism in South Africa:
- GDP: The total contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP was ZAR402.2bn (9.3% of GDP) in 2016, and is forecast to rise by 2.5% in 2017, and to rise by 4.2% pa to ZAR624.2bn (11.5% of GDP) in 2027.
- Employment: In 2016, the total contribution of Travel & Tourism to employment, including jobs indirectly supported by the industry, was 9.8% of total employment (1,533,000 jobs).
- Exports: Visitor exports generated ZAR128.3bn (9.9% of total exports) in 2016.
- Investment: Travel & Tourism investment in 2016 was ZAR68.9bn or 8.1% of total investment.
Source: World Travel & Tourism Council
About TBCSA: Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) is the umbrella organisation for business in the travel and tourism industry. We are a non-profit, member-centric organisation representing the unified voice of business. We serve to unite and influence the diverse travel and tourism industry to contribute to a competitive, responsible and inclusive travel and tourism (and South African) economy. For more information visit www.tbcsa.travel