South African Minister of Tourism, Patricia de Lille, recently convened a meeting with various stakeholders to address safety concerns in the tourism industry. The goal of this gathering was to discuss and develop an action plan that would address existing challenges and enhance the safety of tourists visiting South Africa.
Priority on Safety Concerns
Recognizing the significant economic and cultural impact of tourism, Minister de Lille and the stakeholders agreed that addressing safety concerns is a priority and requires a collective effort. Enhancing visitor experiences through improved safety and security, access to information, and the provision of quality services is crucial.
Global Crime Concerns
Crime is a global concern affecting tourism, and South Africa is no exception. Minister de Lille acknowledged that countries worldwide are grappling with these issues, including instability and wars in some regions. The private sector also agreed that safety and security challenges must be confronted head-on, and implementing actions to tackle the problem is only possible through collaboration.
Partnership in Addressing Safety Issues
Following in-depth discussions, the Department of Tourism, provincial departments, tourism associations, and private stakeholders agreed to address tourism safety issues in partnership. The National Tourism Safety Forum (NTSF) was established in all nine provinces, responsible for coordinating and integrating safety response mechanisms for tourists in distress.
The Action Plan
The 2018 Tourism Safety Strategy outlines the risks associated with tourism and the necessary actions to improve safety. The action plan focuses on increasing visibility at identified tourist attractions, training tourism monitors, and facilitating integrated implementation and support of safety programs.
Several key areas include the management, training, and development of Tourism Monitors, the establishment of Provincial Tourism Safety Forums, and the call-up of Police Reservists.
The Tourism Monitors Programme and Technology Solutions
The Tourism Monitors Programme (TMP) trains, mentors, and deploys unemployed youth at identified tourism attractions and sites. The program aims to enhance tourism safety awareness, upskill unemployed youth, and reduce tourist vulnerabilities. The South African Police Service (SAPS) provides learning and development programs for Tourism Monitors.
The Department of Tourism is also partnering with the private sector to develop and deploy technology solutions to improve visitor safety. An app called SECURA is being developed to provide emergency medical responses, breakdown assistance, and crime-related incident support.
The private sector, represented by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), is committed to working hand-in-hand with the Department of Tourism in strengthening the Tourism Monitors program and pooling resources for this initiative.
Importance of Collective Efforts
Minister de Lille emphasized the importance of collective efforts and practical solutions to enhance tourism safety. Government agencies and the private sector must work together to create a safe and enjoyable experience for both local and international tourists visiting South Africa. By doing so, they can ensure the continued growth of this vital economic and cultural sector.