The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) has called on government to step up efforts to uphold the rule of law and address the scourge of crime in the country.
This, the council believes will go a long way in creating a safe travel and tourism environment.
The call comes directly as a result of the 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.
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, 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 added that it 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.
Reiterating the council’s stance on the recent spate of distress incidents involving tourists, Mboweni cited the outcomes of South African Tourism’s annual brand-tracking research which indicates that the top reason potential visitors don’t convert their awareness, interest and desire into action (to visit South Africa) is due to a concern for their personal safety.