59 tourism hotspots have been identified to ensure that the tourism monitors are placed in prioritised identified tourism attractions and sites across South Africa. This was according to the Minister of Tourism, Patricia de Lille who addressed international representatives of the Diplomatic Corps during a briefing on Wednesday in Pretoria, where she reported on the progress made in the establishment of the National Tourism Safety Forum.
The ministry of Tourism inaugurated a National Safety Forum which comprises all three spheres of government, including the South African Police Service, National Prosecuting Authority, Airports Company South Africa, the Tourism Business Council and various private sector bodies as well as tourism product owners.
Working through the established National Tourism Safety Forum, the Department of Tourism facilitated the process for the development of the National Tourism Safety Strategy which is centred upon three key themes including Proactive measures, Responsive measures, and Aftercare Programmes.
The main aim of the strategy is to foster a public-private sector partnership in addressing issues of tourism safety in a more coordinated manner. The measures aim to provide an enhanced visitor experience and in the long-term, change perceptions of South Africa as an unsafe destination.
The Proactive Measures pillar focuses on addressing issues that can minimize the potential of incidences that adversely impact tourist safety. It is about putting in place mechanisms to ensure that tourists, both domestic and international, feel safe even before arriving at the destination.
The Implementation of the Tourism Monitors Programme (TMP) was part of the Proactive Measures pillar, as well collecting a Database of crime against tourists, the facilitation of cases relating to international tourists and establishing Victim Support Programmes (VSP).
The TMP is also part of the broader government intervention that involves training, mentorship and deployment of unemployed youth in identified tourism attractions and sites. Government has invested R174 Million for the deployment of Tourism Monitors in this financial year.
The Department is finalising plans to implement the next phase of the programme by 15 December 2023. About 2 300 Tourism Monitors will be deployed nationally, in entities managed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) Gardens, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Ezemvelo Nature Reserve, in the national parks managed by the South African National Parks (SANParks), and at airports managed by Airports Company South Africa (ACSA).
The Responsive Measures pillar focuses on measures or processes that will be followed once an incident has occurred. These mechanisms seek to ensure quick and effective turnaround time to attend to tourists in distress should an incident of crime occur.
“This is about stakeholder coordination and communication in terms of messaging and protocols to follow. We have, since, set up a committee led by the private sector under Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), to develop clear Crisis Management Communications Plan and Protocols.” Minister de Lille said.
She further said that TBCSA is currently working on that plan to ensure that there are clear protocols in place during an incident and that the messaging is same.
“The Aftercare Measures pillar focuses on measures or processes that will be put in place once an incident has occurred. Key to this theme is the establishment of the “Victim Support Programme” in all the provinces.” de Lille said.
To tighten the safety of tourists, the Department of Tourism also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the South African Police Services (SAPS) on collaboration towards the prevention, investigation and combating of crimes impacting on the tourism industry and the safety and well-being of tourists.
The MoU entails identifying and analysing tourism hotspots and establishing a database of crimes committed against tourists, as well as participation in tourist safety awareness and educational programmes. The MoU Action Plan which is being implemented through the Tourism SafetyTechnical Committee comprising of the Department of Tourism and SAPS currently undergoing revision to ensure that other initiatives being implemented with private sector on safety and security are considered and strengthened.
Other initiatives include the establishment of the SECURA App early in August this year, which will assist in screening day and night to pick up on any incidences August 2023. The App is linked to major private security companies and it can be downloaded with a minimal monthly subscription fee. The user will be able to access various services, including emergency service providers.
“Again, let me assure you that South Africa is open for business and leisure. We are ready to welcome tourists from all over the world in order to grow our economy and stimulate job creation in this important sector.”
“We are working hard to improve our tourism offerings and enhance safety measures so that all who explore South Africa, whether domestic or international tourists, can do so safely. I therefore implore you to inform your citizens of the measures we as government and the private sector have in place to ensure their safety and let us continue working together to grow inclusive tourism in South Africa.” said the minister.