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Tourism Safety: Collaborate to tell the world that Cape Town is a safe destination

Just 18 months ago, the water crisis loomed large for locals and tourists alike. Not only has the tourism industry weathered the crisis, but it has also become more resilient and better equipped to face other challenges, such as safety.

The drought had a severe impact on the tourism industry, according to Tim Harris, Wesgro CEO, who addressed the Joint Association Member Meetings (JAMMS) with Cape Town Tourism, Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (FEDHASA) Cape, South African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI) Western Cape and Skål International Western Cape.

In a bid to reduce the impact on our tourism industry – which supports 150 000 direct jobs in tourism and hospitality in Cape Town alone – stakeholders in the industry banded together to produce the ‘Nowhere Better‘ Campaign.

The campaign is a collaborative industry initiative driven by Wesgro, Western Cape Government, City of Cape Town, South African Tourism (SAT), Cape Town Tourism, Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA), FEDHASA Cape and SAACI Western Cape, which aims to promote tourism to Cape Town and the Western Cape despite negative media around the water crisis.

Cape Town as a safe destination

The success of the campaign lies not just in how it addressed the water crisis, but in how the industry came together at a time of crisis and pooled all resources, in order to get through a very difficult situation,” explains FEDHASA Cape chairperson Jeff Rosenberg.

The topic that was discussed at the JAMMS event, was “State of Tourism: The impact of crime and visitor safety – Where to from here?”, which took place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Wednesday 2 October.

Some of the effectiveness of the messaging behind the ‘Nowhere Better’ Campaign lies in the unified message. This is now being adapted to highlight a new message for the city, that of how Cape Town is a safe destination and has crime like any other major tourism city.

To ensure that Cape Town is a safe destination, Alderman James Vos, City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management; Alderman JP Smith, Mayoral Committee Member: Safety and Security; and Rashid Toefy, Deputy Director General at the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, discussed measures being put in place by  the City of Cape Town and provincial government to tackle crime.

These include allocating more resources to law enforcement, the deployment of tourism safety ambassadors, the development of strategies and development frameworks, and establishing key partnerships between stakeholders.

Current programmes to increase tourism to Cape Town include Air Access, which has opened up 13 additional air routes to the city. Resources have been made available to ensure visitor “care and comfort”, Vos said, including a programme that offers translation services, assistance with lost passports and facilities to report crimes at any Cape Town Tourism office, among others.

“Despite the recent crime, we remain excited about tourism,” Vos said.

The budget has been made available from local government to provide additional law enforcement officers, Smith added, and he, therefore, applauded Premier Alan Winde’s announcement of 1000 additional law enforcement officers per year, who will be deployed over the next three years in the CBD. Winde has also committed 150 additional investigators to support local police for better conviction results, Smith reported.

The City is also investing and expanding their CCTV and computerised dispatch systems – the first city in South Africa to do so.

We’ve gotten on top of the water crisis; now we’re getting on top of crime.  In a few years’ time, we won’t be having this conversation. But it will take a huge amount of resources,” Smith said.

Adding her voice, Cape Town policing cluster commander Brigadier Lillian van Wyk offered safety tips and reassured members that “Cape Town is a safe destination”.

Looking forward

Another key factor in the ‘Nowhere Better’ Campaign’s success lay in how industry role-players and government united.

But, much like in the water crisis, the campaign requires the participation of all industry role-players. This will be done through forums, such as the Tourism Safety Forum – a formally structured, multi-stakeholder and collaborative forum established to make Cape Town one of the safest destinations in the world – of which FEDHASA Cape is a member. This forum will look at means to minimise crime, which includes increasing the presence of safety officers at ATMs in the CBD and surrounds to curb credit card fraud, establishing helplines, improving safety measures for tourists visiting Table Mountain, as well as other tourist attractions and the province at large.

The collaboration of safety forums is starting to show results, Toefy added, saying that there had been a drastic reduction in the number of incidents of crime on Table Mountain.

We all need to get involved and become the solution. Let’s talk about the positive moments and good news stories to keep our destination as beautiful and safe as possible,” Rosenberg said.

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