ATC190910: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism on the Consultative Workshop on Tourist Safety and Security in South Africa, dated 10 September 2019
NCOP Economic and Business Development
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism on the Consultative Workshop on Tourist Safety and Security in South Africa, dated 10 September 2019
The Portfolio Committee on Tourism, having convened a Joint Workshop with the Portfolio Committee on Police on Tourist Safety and Security in South Africa on 27 August 2019, reports as follows:
In his State of the Nation Addresses in February and June 2019, the President of the Republic of South Africa committed the government and the private sector to a bold and ambitious target of doubling tourism figures from 10.5 million in 2018 to 21 million by 2030. However, it was identified early on by the Portfolio Committee on Tourism in the 6th Parliament that the spate of crimes committed against tourists poses a direct threat to the achievement of the 2030 international arrivals targets. The Portfolio Committee on Tourism noted that there is an increase in the crime incidents committed against tourists in the country, with particular emphasis on the world renowned tourist attractions such as the Table Mountain national park and follow-home crimes from airports such as OR Tambo International Airport.
In response to this predicament, the Portfolio Committee on Police was approached to assist in dealing with the crimes against tourists. Consequently, on 27 August 2019, the Portfolio Committee on Tourism and the Portfolio Committee on Police held a joint consultative workshop on Tourist Safety and Security in South Africa. The purpose of the workshop was to bring together all interested and affected stakeholders concerned about the crime committed against tourists in South Africa, with the intention to find lasting solutions that will mitigate the impact of crime on the tourism industry in the short term and completely eradicate tourism crime in the long term.
The workshop was welcomed by all stakeholders in attendance, with an appreciation for an initiative of this nature from Parliament. Stakeholders in attendance, in addition to the Committee members and Parliamentary support staff, included government officials, representatives from provincial legislatures, officials from provincial tourism authorities, members from academia and stakeholders from the private sector.
The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the workshop proceedings and the resolutions decided upon by the relevant parties.
- Rationale and objectives
South Africa is in the grip of violent crime, and a focus on Tourist Safety may not be viewed in a positive light by some, particularly civil society lobby groups. However, a defined approach towards the safety of tourists does not take away from the community safety approach. A focus on tourist safety should not be seen as the police protecting the elite at the expense of local communities. Tourist safety should, however, be viewed in a broader economic spectrum, and as a country the benefits it has on the economic growth should be weighed.
The travel and tourism sector is a key economic driver globally. South Africa’s spectacular scenery, magnificent outdoors, sunny climate, cultural diversity, friendly people, and world-class infrastructure make it one of the most desired destinations in the world. Thus, tourism is one of the five priority economic sectors that the government has chosen to focus on in its effort to support investment and facilitate growth. However, international tourist arrivals to South Africa fell 0.6 percent in 2018 compared to 2017, far below the targeted 6.5 percent. Barriers to increased international tourist arrivals include, among other things, negative perceptions related to safety and security. South African Tourism (SAT) reports that alarm has been raised in markets such as Europe and Asia over the safety and security of international visitors. Travellers have been warned by their governments to exercise caution when travelling to South Africa due to high levels of crime. While tourism forecasts for South Africa are positive, these might not be realised if the issue of crime is not adequately addressed.
In the media, South Africa is listed among the world’s most violent nations outside a war zone. In the 2019 Global Finance ranking of the safest countries in the world, South Africa ranked at 101 out of 128 countries. The 2019 Women’s Danger Index has ranked South Africa as the most dangerous country in Africa for solo female travellers, with safety and intentional homicide against women highlighted as some of the main reasons. South Africa’s ranking on the World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index for 2017 has slipped to number 53 out of 136 countries, which is five places down from its 43rd position in 2015. The country’s tourism competitiveness has deteriorated on two elements, safety and security and environmental sustainability. With 33 homicides per 100,000 people, South Africa has one of the worst homicide rates in the index, ranking 131st. While SAPS reports a marginal decrease in the number of contact crimes, continued gruesome incidents against tourists are detrimental to the country’s image as a competitive tourist destination.
The objectives of the Consultative Workshop were as follows:
- To harness the private and public sector perspectives on the impact of crime in the tourism industry in South Africa.
- To bring together experts to look at economic scenarios on the risks posed by tourism crime on the economy of the country.
- To identify various tourism safety initiatives planned and implemented by various
organisations in South Africa.
2.4 To solicit suggestions from various communities to the Committee on what can be done to curb crime against tourists in South Africa.
2.5 To recommend a collaborative initiative that coordinates resources and efforts by various stakeholders to maximise tourism crime prevention and combating interventions in South Africa.
- Workshop proceedings
The following information captures the summary of key issues raised by various stakeholders who made inputs in the workshop:
3.1 Opening remarks
In her opening remarks, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, Ms. T. Joemat-Petterson acknowledged the value of the tourism industry as a catalyst for economic growth and development. The value of the tourism sector to the South African economy cannot be underestimated. However, crime constitutes a threat to a thriving tourism industry. While crime incidents might at times be isolated, any perceptions about an unsafe destination have an impact on the country’s inbound tourism. Ms Joemat-Petterson also made reference to the media’s role in reporting crime incidents. Global crime reporting has exacerbated perceptions about safety to inbound tourists. In response to the scourge of tourist crime related incidents, the South African Police Services (SAPS) is currently working in partnership with the Department of Tourism to find a solution on how best to address this challenge. The National Police Commissioner has approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Tourism. The Departments will be collaborating in the following broad areas: ensuring the joint implementation of an optimised policing and safety strategy in the tourism environment; creating a platform for information sharing between the SAPS and the National Tourism Safety Forum; and facilitating joint awareness opportunities to create and enhance the tourism environment and improve the service level standards. A detailed explanation on the MoU and Implementation/Action Plan, is provided below.
The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism, Mr S.O.R Mahumapelo, supported Ms Joemat-Petterson’s sentiments on the value of the tourism industry to the country’s economic growth. The National Development Plan, which informs the programme of the 6th government administration, makes reference to tourism as a major source of revenue and employment for the country through investment in infrastructure, product and service development. It envisages rising employment, productivity and incomes as a way of ensuring a long-term solution to reducing inequality, improving living standards and ensuring a dignified existence for all South Africans. In order for the tourism industry to fully contribute to the above, barriers such as safety and security need to be adequately addressed. The current economic strain that South Africa finds itself in, will require, among other things, collaborative efforts among all key development partners. A conducive environment for tourism growth can only be achieved through effective and working partnerships.
3.2 Guest Speakers
3.2.1 University of Cape Town: Safety and Violence Initiative - Dr Guy Lamb
Tourists are regularly victims of crime in most popular tourist destinations. The reasons for this is that tourists are an easy target, they are viewed as a lucrative target, can be at the wrong place at the wrong time and sometimes take risks and don’t observe safety precautions. The most common crimes against tourists include theft, burglaries, robberies and scams. It is also important to recognise that at times tourists are the perpetrators of crime. Dr Lamb referred to the relationship between tourist crimes and the reporting thereof. Tourist experiences of violent crime are usually over-represented in the media, often resulting in ‘moral panic’. This has negative implications for the tourism economy. It is also worth noting that there are limited studies on crimes against tourists. Governments typically do not publish dedicated data on crime against tourists, including South Africa. The availability of this information is important to ensure the identification of hotspots and the provision of security measures in these areas. While it is important to note that crimes against tourists are estimated to be a smaller percentage of total crime, however, their impact on destination perception is lasting and can be economically devastating.
While there are still prevalent challenges on tourist safety, it is important to recognise the initiatives that are in place. These include the networks of security in many key tourist sites, visible policing and CCTV cameras in attraction sites such as the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town and the educational role played by the different tourism stakeholders. However, these can be improved, especially for the more secluded tourist areas. A national tourist safety strategy is also critical for the country in order to address the current safety challenges.
3.2.2 Statistics South Africa – Mr Resinga Maluleke
The Statistician-General, Mr Maluleke, made a clear distinction between the crime statistics collected by Stats SA and those collected by SAPS. The statistics reported by SAPS are from cases reported at police stations, while Stats SA goes to households to obtain its crime data. Stats SA conducts a household-based survey, the Governance, Public Safety and Justice Survey (GPSJS) formerly referred to as the Victims of Crime Report, which examines crime from the point of view of the victims. The focus of the survey is on people’s perceptions and experiences of crime. The GPSJS produces estimates of the actual number of incidents of crime experienced by households and individuals, while SAPS statistics are derived from crime reported at police stations. The GPSJS does not aim to target tourists and the household experience of crime may differ significantly to that of a tourist. It does however provide a broader context of South Africa’s crime landscape.
Mr Maluleke made reference to the tourism industry’s economic value to South Africa. At 2.8 percent tourism is larger than agriculture, but smaller than mining in its contribution to GDP, at R130.3 billion. While international visitors, at 44 percent, contribute significantly to tourist expenditure the domestic visitors continue to be a larger base at 56 percent. In 2017, tourism created 31 752 net new jobs. About 16 676 of these were created in road transport. During the same period tourism created more jobs than manufacturing and mining. Findings from the 2017 Domestic Tourism Survey, indicate a pattern of incline in domestic tourism for both day (from 39.4 million to 47.5 million) and overnight (from 42.8 million to 44.4 million) trips from 2016 to 2017. However, a significant portion (73 percent) of these visitors are mostly visiting friends and relatives (VFR). Most of the tourists that made use of unpaid accommodation when undertaking an overnight trip stayed with friends or relatives.
Mr Maluleke concluded the session by providing a contextual overview of crime in South Africa. The Victims of Crime Report for 2017/18, shows an estimate of 1.68 million crime incidences against persons aged 16 and above. The percentage of individuals aged 16 and above who experienced crime decreased steadily between 2013/14 and 2016/17, from 4.7 percent to 3.5 percent. However, this number slightly increased in 2017/18 at 3.7 percent. The Report also indicates that theft of personal property, robbery outside the home and assault counted for 79 percent of crime experienced by individuals 16 years and above. This has led to a decrease in the general feeling of safety by citizens. The number of households that felt safe to walk both during the daytime and at night in their neighbourhood declined for most of the period of 2013/14 to 2017/18. The percentage dropped for walking during the daytime from 87 percent in 2013/14 to 79 percent in 2017/18. The number also significantly decreased for walking during the night from 35 percent in 2013/14 to 32 percent in 2017/18. Only 1 percent of respondents indicated that they did not take an overnight trip because they are worried about safety/security/crime in 2017.
3.2.3 Tourism Business Council of South Africa - Mr Blacky Komani
The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) is the umbrella organisation for organised business for the travel and tourism trade. The Council is an active member of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) and takes part in National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) processes. Its mandate is to provide a unified voice for the private sector and to provide a route to the Government for members. TBCSA is a membership based organisation with sectoral and corporate role players in the industry as members.
Mr Komani made reference to various crime incidents against tourists, reported to the TBCSA via its Tourist Safety Initiative. The incidents vary from follow home robberies from OR Tambo International Airport, fraud against guesthouses, armed robberies, hijackings and bribes being solicited by traffic officers. Out of 460 respondents to a recent Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) survey, 266 (57 percent) revealed that their groups/visitors to the country have been victims of crime. One medium sized tour operator had R8m worth of cancellations within 3 days of the Ukrainian tourist’s death at Table Mountain.
Mr Komani highlighted some of the private sector initiatives that are currently in place to address the challenge of tourist safety. The Tourism Safety Initiative includes:
- Crime Incident and Investigation Management System (CiiMS). Links suspects to a series of cases, vehicles, syndicates used and cellphones. It is able to analyse CCTV camera footage from hotels and guesthouses.
- Blacklisting of suspects - card fraud.
- Stolen rental vehicles recovered.
- Vetting of staff (including shuttle drivers) prior to employment.
- Link with SAPS NatJoints for vehicle recoveries and other investigations.
- Link with Bryte Insurance to assist police with investigations of house robberies.
- TBCSA is a member of Gauteng ProvJoints.
- Joint Action with Kruger Lowveld on issues of tourism safety.
- Industry Crisis Communications Plan.
- Co-chair of the National Tourism Safety Forum and jointly developed the National Tourism Safety Strategy with the Department of Tourism.
TBCSA is also currently in discussions with the Minister of Tourism on how to repurpose the funds, from the TOMSA levy, that are channelled to South African Tourism annually towards safety initiatives in hotspots. In addition, South African Tourism and TBCSA are currently on a roadshow in Europe to communicate with the trade that South Africa is open for business. The Council is also in the process of launching a Tourism Safety App. for both international and domestic visitors.
3.2.4 South African Police Service – Lt. General Jephta
Lt. General Jephta made reference to the impact of crime on tourist arrivals in a country. International tourism trends indicate that personal safety and security issues are of high importance in the potential tourists’ choice of a destination. Incidents of crime directed at tourists and tourism products create a negative perception and reputation about a destination and in turn, impact on both the visitor experience and visitor numbers for both international and domestic tourists. Mobile digital technology has led to immediate responses to any perceptions of safety and security in destinations. Technology allows for immediate cancellation of bookings in real time in the case of any event indicating that tourist safety may potentially be compromised.
In September 2018, SAPS (Division: Visible Policing) and the Department of Tourism entered into a partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The Department of Tourism and the SAPS seek to establish and formalise their relationship in areas of mutual interest and concern, pertaining to crimes impacting on the tourism industry and the safety and wellbeing of tourists. The MoU, between the National Commissioner of the South African Police Services and the Director General of the Department of Tourism, is ready for sign off. The Departments will be collaborating in the following areas:
- Creating a framework within which the SAPS and the Department of Tourism can cooperate and collaborate and jointly undertake projects to identify, address and mitigate risks, challenges and threats impacting on tourist safety, as well as businesses in the tourism industry, which include but are not limited to the following:
- Identification of tourism destinations which are linked to crime hotspots, by the Department of Tourism and supported by the SAPS analysis thereof.
- Establishment of a database, by SAPS, of crimes committed against tourists, through segregating reported cases which involves tourists.
- Enhancement of the tourism environment through the Department’s participation and contribution in SAPS crime prevention initiatives.
- The Integrated Tourist Safety and Security Strategy will include the following:
- Crime Threat and Crime Pattern Analysis
- Information/data collection
- Identification of hotspot areas
- Community Policing / Partnership Policing
- Establishment of Provincial Tourist Safety Committees
- Involvement of unemployed youth
- Capacity building
- Communication Plan
- Dedicated hotline for tourists
- Incident Management
- Victim Support.
A National Tourism Safety Forum (NTSF), which is a public-private sector forum responsible for the coordination and integration of the Tourism Safety Programme has been established. The Forum includes the following stakeholders: Department of Tourism, Provincial Departments of Tourism, SAPS, SAT, TBCSA, South African Tourism Services Association, South African Association of the Conference Industry, Southern African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, Business Against Crime South Africa, South African Banking Risk Information Centre and Airports Company South Africa. The Forum will be a sub-committee of the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) and will be responsible for the monitoring and execution of projects/actions, as agreed in the Implementation Plan.
3.2.5 Western Cape Economic Development and Tourism – Mr Rashid Toefy
As a result of an increase in tourism crime related incidents, South Africa has lost five places in the 2017 edition of the World Economic Forum Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report. Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors within the Western Cape. However, crime against tourists is impeding tourism by significantly damaging the Western Cape’s brand which is having disastrous consequences for the provincial economy on attracting visitors. A loss in visitors impacts tourism expenditure, GGP and jobs. The Western Cape Government’s Tourism Safety Strategy seeks to achieve the following:
- Drop in tourist related crimes in the Western Cape.
- Enhance the Western Cape Brand Image specific to crime incidents affecting tourists.
- Establish a multi stakeholder platform bringing public sector and private sector players together.
- Increase confidence levels amongst the public in the role of government.
- Develop a best practice model for crime reduction that can be replicated in other provinces.
- Improve and enhance safety and security readiness and preparedness levels within the tourism industry focusing on the main tourist attractions and tourism businesses.
In order to develop a tourism safety ecosystem, the Department has identified these six areas as critical: engaged communities, partnerships and associations, development and use of technology, government, informed tourists and preparedness and emergency response.
The Strategy comprises the following levers:
- Tourism Safety Forum - a formally structured, multi stakeholder and collaborative safety forum will be formed. Sub-forums will also be formed to address specific risks as they emerge. An example will be the formulation of the Communications Task Team and Tech sub-forum.
- Enforcement Task Force - a multi stakeholder enforcement task team will be established. The task force will be professionally managed 24/7, be formally endorsed by SAPS, work in partnership with community policing initiatives and partner with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to enforce prosecution. The Department is also in the process of establishing a tourism safety priority sub-committee at the Provincial Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (ProvJoints).
- Tourist Safety Response – a tourist safety response structure will be established to provide assistance and support to tourists in distress. The objectives of this lever include: practical and emotional support for tourists in need, 24-hour response capability 7 days a week, awareness and lobbying and intervention or representation at different levels. The Department also plans to enhance relationships with consulates and embassies in order to establish synergies to address tourist safety needs.
- Tourist Safety & Security Tech Platform - innovative technologies that can act as an enabler to help address and solve core tourist safety risks will be identified. The forum for this has already been established and has held its first meeting. The Department is also in the process of developing a tech tool that will allow incidents against tourists to be logged via a simple app. This will allow for data gathering and data intelligence.
- Communication Strategy - a comprehensive communication strategy integrating all important stakeholders will be developed. The strategy will build awareness of tourism safety among stakeholders, secure the commitment and buy-in from all stakeholders, influence specific policies around aspects of tourist safety and encourage participation among key bodies. The Department has already conducted a provincial survey among tourism organisations, in order to address the most pertinent and consistent theme across the province.
- Interventions & Partnerships - synergies to enable funding of cross-platform initiatives and skills developments will be identified. The Department is collaborating with the Department of Tourism for the Tourism Safety Monitors pilot to take place in the Province. A 100 Tourism Monitors have been deployed at Table Mountain National Park and a 100 more will be deployed across the province by November 2019. The Department will also be developing partnerships with organisations such as Table Mountain Watch, with the view of integrating the community as solution owners.
All of this will be informed by a data tracking and measurement system, to ensure successful interventions that will result in tangible benefits.
3.2.6 WESGRO – Mr Tim Harris
Mr Tim Harris, Chief Executive Officer: Wesgro presented on the Impact of the perception of crime in South Africa on tourism: A Regional Destination Management Office perspective.
On the water crisis that recently affected the Western Cape, Mr Harris emphasised that the country needs to take lessons learnt from the drought in the Western Cape. The issue at the time was water scarcity. The narrative was Day Zero, and the time frame was indefinite. An operational response was the technology behaviour change. The response from the local community was to pushback. The community was of the view that tourists were using up all their water. The communication response to pushback, was that tourists only make up 1 percent of the total population at a given time (minimal impact on water usage). Ultimately, this resulted in collaboration. The physical communication room was set up between government and industry.
On crime, the issue at hand is crime against tourists. The narrative is the crime wave engulfing the country. The time frame is indefinite. Operational response, to use technology for community engagement. The local community pushback. The community is of the view that initiatives are only protecting areas where tourists go to. Communication response to pushback, the message is about creating a safer public space for all. The end result, is collaboration where a physical and remote communication room is set up between government and the industry.
The following issues were raised in relation to the response plan:
The biggest learning from the drought was the success of the collaboration. The biggest gap was that the Province did not drive a long term communication plan around the end of the drought:
- The need for continuous communication focusing on the solution / positive, supported by brand work.
- The need to have a dedicated collaborative team focusing on this, outside the day to day brand work.
- The need to use the “best of the best” in the industry to be part of this long-term plan.
- Primary audience
- Tourism trade that brings international visitors to the Western Cape.
- International embassies and consulates that are engaging with the potential visitors.
- Stakeholders in the ecosystem.
Why the primary audience is so important?
- They are the quickest route to market with the message.
- They are engaging with potential visitors daily.
- Low cost per engagement.
- Potential visitors to the Western Cape.
Importance of secondary audience
- Need to ensure everybody is on the consideration set; and
- High cost per engagement.
- Added value to primary audience
- Access to a single narrative from reputable source.
- Real time updates on relevant “hot topics.”
- Communication tools (for example, videos, images, statements) can be used to help remove potential visitors concerns.
- Fast facts to see business opportunities to assist with strategic decisions.
Need to do a brand campaign on safety
- Wesgro is of the view, there is no need. What is required is rather upweight and work with # “nowhere better as the brand work”.
- Change the narrative through “owning the search,” engagement with media and managing online conversations.
(iv) Actual and Virtual communication room
The intention is to get the right people in the room to make a meaningful impact, collaborate and assist:
Process completed call industry:
- To understand the real communication issues.
- To understand what tools they need.
- To see who has the relevant expertise and time to assist.
Actions in progress
- Joint database of articles and journalists writing about the crime (add these to the database).
- Joint database of media and influencers hosted (add these to the database).
- Set up weekly meetings for the team to meet and discuss issues, progress and opportunities.
Tourism industry response to assist based on initial strategy presented
- Selected industry partners are assisting in monitoring certain social media platforms daily and answering questions posed by potential visitors through SATSA.
- Collaborate on content around the long tail keyword strategy and post on their websites.
Existing collaboration with industry
- Joint industry research piece with Fedhasa, SAACI, and SATSA.
- Joint FAQ document with City of Cape Town, Western Cape Government, Cape Town Tourism, FEDHASA, and SAACI.
3.2.7 Gauteng Tourism Authority – Ms Yoland Kona
Tourism plays a contributory part in Gauteng’s priority economic development areas as articulated in the State of the Province Address and the Growing Gauteng Together Provincial Plan. The sector is prioritised towards the development and revitalisation of the township economy, job creation, infrastructure development, skills development and education and the optimisation of the creative industries. The Gauteng Tourism Authority is primed to provide a world-class comprehensive tourist-centric service to business and leisure visitors, promote and develop Gauteng as a must-visit big city region and to leverage tourism for socio-economic development. In 2018, the total number of international tourists visiting Gauteng decreased by -6.6 percent to a total of 3.8 million. Despite the decline Gauteng is still the most visited province by international tourists. The following continue to be key concerns for international visitors: visa regulations, affordability, personal safety, South Africa as a long-haul destination and uncertainty about the political climate. The number of domestic arrivals at 19.1 million, declined by -0.2 percent in the province. Tough macroeconomic conditions continue to affect domestic travel, as consumers are re-evaluating their household expenditure.
The Tourist Safety Strategy will entail the following:
- Tourism Safety Forum – the forum structure will be collaborative, including multi-stakeholders. It will entail information and data sharing, including the establishment of standards to properly coordinate tourist safety in the province.
- Tourist Safety Response – an operational response document will be formulated, with the view to compile a clear and seamless response approach to reported incidents. The aim is to provide 24/7 assistance and support to tourists in distress.
- Tourism Safety Communication Strategy – a comprehensive communication strategy, integrating all the relevant stakeholders will be formulated.
The aim of the strategy is to facilitate redress consultatively with key stakeholders and to ensure that tourism safety and awareness is integrated in the tourism value chain. Elements of the Gauteng Province’s Tourist Safety Strategy are aligned to those of the Western Cape province, which is a reassuring trend as this will ensure a uniform approach and response to tourist safety in the country.
3.2.8 Department of Tourism – Mr V Tharage
South Africa is currently ranked last or second last in safety and security in all focus markets. This is currently the biggest barrier to travel to South Africa. South African Tourism has strategically positioned itself to market the country across the globe. The Entity has offices in the following countries: The Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, United States, France, India, China, Nigeria and Australia. These country offices, in addition to other platforms, play a key role in distributing positive messages about South Africa as a safe tourist destination. However, the perception around safety and security of South Africa as a destination is declining in the country’s key overseas markets. The following countries issued advisories, between October 2018 and August 2019, namely, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, China, UK, Netherlands, Germany and France. Crime restricts and limits people’s movements, options and participation in activities and opportunities. The fear of crime significantly influences decisions that tourists make regarding preferred destinations. Tourists who feel unsafe in a destination or threatened are not likely to return to the said destination, nor are they likely to recommend the destination to others.
Findings from South African Tourism’s Brand Tracker for February, June and November 2017 show that 17 percent of tourists who were aware of South Africa were not positive about coming to the country because of concerns they had about their personal safety. 14 percent of those who had sought information about South Africa would also not come because of their concerns about personal safety. These numbers are significant, and safety is among the three highest barriers that prevent people from visiting South Africa.
The Department is currently in the process of formulating a Tourist Safety and Security Strategy. The Strategy has been developed in consultation with the National Tourism Safety Forum comprised of SAPS, Provinces, BACSA, SABRIC, PHASA, NAASA, SATSA, DoT, C-BRTA, SAT, DIRCO, BARSA, SAVRLA and TBCSA. The purpose of the strategy is to foster a public private sector partnership in addressing issues of tourism safety in a more coordinated manner in order to provide an enhanced visitor experience. The Strategy has three strategic pillars, with various initiatives:
- Proactive Measures – this area focuses on initiatives that will be put in place before incidences take place. Some of the initiatives include, hotspot identification and analysis, visible policing, tourism monitors programme, database of crime against tourists, tourist safety initiative app. and the establishment of the provincial tourism safety forum.
- Responsive Measures – this area will focus on measures or processes that will be followed should an incident occur. This will include the development of a safety communications protocol, establishment of a crisis management committee, establishment of a database of foreign language interpreters, a focal person in each of the foreign based embassies and communication channels among the various stakeholders.
- After Care Programme – this area will focus on measures or processes that will be followed once an incident has occurred. This will entail the establishment of a tourism victim support programme. The programme will include facilitation and processing of criminal cases, counselling, replacement of lost or stolen identification documents, accommodation, contacting of families and giving feedback to the victims and their families and ongoing liaison with embassies.
The Strategy will be effected through the following institutional mechanisms: National, Provincial, District and Local Tourism Safety Forums. Stakeholders within these structures will include representatives from the SAPS, relevant departments, industry associations and embassies and consulates. These structures will address issues around terrorism, severe accidents, criminal acts, natural disasters, social discrimination and community or industrial protests.
3.2.9 SANParks – Mr Norman Johnson
Safety and security has always been an absolute necessity for travel and tourism. The evolution of tourist needs and activities has required destination attractions to respond to these changing needs accordingly. Changes in societal norms have also brought with changes in criminal behaviour. The Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the country. The park has over 4.5 million visits a year. TMNP extends 50km from Signal Hill to Cape Point, thus the park operates on an open access system. Controlled points of entry are limited to certain locations, making it difficult to monitor every trail in the park. In addition, there is the issue of the permeability of the park boundary and the natural private pockets of land on the peninsula, which at times make it difficult to distinguish when one is outside of the park boundary. This has implications for reporting on any incidents that happen outside of the boundary, reported as having happened in the park. The number of visitors to the park has not been drastically affected by the incidents that have occurred thus far. For example, during the 2018/19 financial year the park had over 3.3 million visitors versus 11 incidents reported. The year with the highest number of tourist related incidents was 2010/11, with over 32 incidents reported against a visitor number of 2.2 million.
Some of the challenges faced by the Park in achieving tourist safety include:
- Terrain / Topography,
- Poor or No cell phone or radio signals / reception,
- Open access nature of the Park with its multiple, open entry points and permeable, often unfenced boundaries,
- Spillover of crime from neighboring suburbs,
- Prosecutions – a large percentage of apprehensions are individuals out on parole or bail for previous mishaps,
- Criminal syndicates involved and the crime is interrelated e.g. poaching, drugs, rhino – abalone etc.,
- Conflict between different users (e.g. trail runners and walkers),
- Visitor behaviour,
- Changing weather patterns, and
- Tour guides vs Uber – unknowingly dropping off visitors in dodgy areas.
SANParks is part of a number of joint and coordinated law enforcement efforts with both safety and security and civil stakeholders. Some of these include, state departments, volunteers, private security, neighbourhood watches and safety forums and civics. The Entity is also implementing the following mitigating measures:
• Ongoing Operational review (includes structure review),
• Appropriate technologies (integrated operational information system),
• Tactical response team establishment,
• Review ranger capability to meet the challenges (up-skilling, equipment),
• Introduction of Tourism Monitors,
• Multi stakeholder approach,
• Relationship building, resource sharing, and
• Media support/awareness.
3.2.10 Mount Nelson Hotel – Mr Xavier Lablauder
The Mount Nelson Hotel, was recently the target of an armed robbery. While no one was hurt during the incident, a few items were taken from the hotel. According to Mr Lablauder, General Manager of Mount Nelson, the hotel as part of the Belmont hotel chain is the only hotel under the group’s facilities with the most crime related incidents. Mr Lablauder also made reference to the media’s reporting of the incident. It was disconcerting to see how the story was distorted in the media with exaggerations made around the number of robbers that entered the property.
Bookings to the hotel have been lost as a result of the incident, however, forward bookings for the year 2020 are positive. Support from loyal hotel guests has been encouraging. In response to the incident the Hotel has increased its security staff component, including additional CCTV cameras. The Hotel has also changed its tenant, replacing the jewellery shop with a curio shop, as the jewellery shop was the robbers’ primary target.
Safety issues facing tourism facilities, also extend to staff members. The hotel’s staff transport has been hijacked on various occasions, but luckily no staff members have been hurt. This, however, affects staff performance and their overall well-being.
3.2.11 SANEF – Ms Asanda Ngoasheng
The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is a membership-based organisation. It consists of title editors and senior editorial executives operating in print, broadcasting and digital mainstream and certain regional and community media, as well as media academics from major journalism training institutions. The organisation seeks to address media freedom. SANEF campaigns to stop media freedom violations from the side of government, political parties, corporates, citizens, inside the media itself and the courts.
Tourism is a high employment, high value industry for South Africa, however media reportage around tourism has not been developmental with other sectors getting more positive airplay than tourism. SANEF acknowledges that the overall crime narrative needs to be reviewed and more nuanced reportage needs to be undertaken. This includes reporting around xenophobia. All of this requires dialogue between government, media and civil society. Reportage on the millions of tourists that arrive, enjoy their stay and leave the country’s shores with no incidents should be done but this is not done for several reasons:
- Under resourced media houses means more journalists are doing the job of many people;
- Multimedia journalism means journalists must write a story for online, file a radio report and file a television piece while live tweeting each event;
- This speed leads to an inability to critically analyse issues like crime, xenophobia, tourist crime etc.
- Journalists are part of society and therefore hold biases like all South Africans, meaning all society issues e.g. racism, sexism, xenophobia and other isms will show up in media;
- Underfunded media houses mean poorly researched stories;
- Fast pace of media cycle (24 hours) makes it difficult to stay with the same story beyond the sensation;
- Home Affairs Visa story – there was a lot of reportage when the policy was implemented, but little reportage on the impact of the reversal of the visa; and
- Lack of capacity in education and resources available to journalists when covering specialized industry stories.
It is thus important to establish what government, civil society and the media can do together on the impact of media reporting on tourism and the economy in a way that does not promote censorship. The immediate availability and easy access to crime statistics is crucial to this collaborative process. It is also important that political heads are easily accessible for reporting on both the positives and negatives of a story. Balanced reporting, through transparent and accountable political leadership, can go a long way in addressing the problem of sensationalism in the reporting of issues.
- Committee observations
The following issues were raised by the two committees and the stakeholders during the workshop:
4.1 Emphasis on tourist safety does not trump the safety of citizens
The spotlight given to the safety of tourists should not be seen as compromising and superseding the safety of the citizens. However, this intervention should be seen as a mechanism to shield the economy. The decline in tourist arrivals due to perceptions of safety have a multiplier effect. When tourists stop coming, there will be a decline in tourist spend, this will lead to a decline in revenue generation, a decline in revenue generation will lead to loss of existing jobs and the sector will not be able to create new jobs, this will lead to increased unemployment, in turn, unemployment will lead to a myriad of social ills such as poverty.
The Workshop suggested that in the light of the economic benefits of tourism in the country, the South African Police Services should consider classifying crime against tourists as economic crimes.
4.2 Creation of dedicated tourism police
Major cities such as Cape Town are contemplating establishing tourism police as it is a norm with other tourist destinations in the world, such as Sydney and Miami. This is a matter that needs serious research, scrutiny, and collaboration by a number of stakeholders. The creation of a dedicated tourism police might create and reinforce the negative perception amongst local residents about the prioritisation of tourists over the citizens. A decision on this matter needs proper consultation and a buy-in by local citizens. The Departments of Tourism and Police need to look at this matter closely and determine, based on a feasibility study, whether a dedicated tourism police should be rolled out nationally.
4.3 Usage of technology
It was noted that the usage of technology can have a positive impact on detecting and preventing crime against tourists. The technology may include CCTV cameras, drones, APPs, panic buttons, WhatsApp groups, tourism safety communication websites, and dedicated tourist emergency numbers. These could be linked to NatJoints, ProvJoints, local police stations, community policing forums, neighbourhood watch, armed response and other first responders. These were noted as important interventions that should be translated into the National Tourism Safety Strategy.
The workshop noted that the scourge of crime against tourists can only be eradicated through sustained partnerships amongst role players, including communities. The partnership between the SAPS through its NatJoints and ProvJoints; the initiatives by the private sector; the involvement of provinces, municipalities and cities or towns; should all be formalised through the national strategy. The provinces should also have tourist safety strategies based on the national strategy, with local nuances. The partnerships should also include collaboration with the private security companies. This could assist with quick response in cases of emergency.
4.5 Inclusive tourism growth and crime manifestation
The inclusive tourism growth was seen as an effective way of reducing crime against tourists. The Workshop noted that if South Africans, especially those around popular tourist attractions, are included in the tourism value chain, they will protect the industry. This calls for a transformation in the tourism industry and greater participation of the local people. When local people benefit from tourism, they will safeguard the sector and be agents of change and safety. Therefore, the national and provincial governments should have clear transformation programmes to include local communities. The new investments should be more in the villages, township, and small towns/dorpies.
4.6 Comparative study
The workshop noted that there is no comparative study that has been undertaken by either the Department of Tourism or its provincial counterparts on brand positivity, and therefore the impact on the number of people visiting South Africa. There is no benchmarking information on the short-term and long-term effects of crime in other similar destinations in the world. Such a study would assist in understanding whether the country has been worse affected by crime as compared to other destinations, or what is happening in South Africa is a general trend worldwide. If South Africa is affected more than other countries, this would assist in deciphering factors that make it more detrimental in this country as compared to others.
4.7 Grading as one of the safety measures
The workshop noted that the national grading scheme administered by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa may be used to improve safety for tourists at accommodation establishments. The grading scheme may include safety criteria that might be added in the grading scheme to streamline safety.
4.8 Communication strategy
The workshop identified the lack of a coherent communication strategy around tourist safety as a matter that needs urgent attention. This strategy should be in the form of a Crisis Management Plan. All the tourism stakeholders in the country should be in possession of such a plan so that they know what to do in the time of crisis. The suggestion was that within the National Safety Forum, there must be a Crisis Management War Room that comprises of communications experts from relevant departments and sectors, so that within an hour or sooner, all relevant stakeholders could plug in and communicate. This is critical in ensuring that there is one single narrative, including what the politicians, officials, and the media send out as a message. This will assist is containing the hysteria of an incident and ensure it does not get out of control.
4.9 Need for an integrated strategy
It was noted that there are various tourist safety initiatives from various stakeholders. These include current interventions being implemented by the government at national and provincial levels, and the private sector through the Tourism Business Council of South Africa. It was also noted that the Department of Tourism was still developing a National Tourism Safety Strategy whilst other provinces are already implementing their strategies. The government entities such as SanParks was also implementing a number of tourist safety initiatives in the parks under their jurisdiction. However, these were not integrated through a coherent and common strategy that is ubiquitously implemented throughout the country. The Workshop suggested that the National Tourism Safety Strategy being implemented by the Department of Tourism should take into consideration all the current initiatives by government and the private sector. This strategy should have concrete implementation plans with time frames. The hotspots should be identified and the strategy should contain specific interventions to deal with such tourism hotspots.
It was noted that some events that have been convened in the country for a number of years have had no crime incidents. A good example was made of the Makhanda Festival (formerly known as the Grahamstown Jazz Festival). The partnership between the communities, the SAPS, and the event organisers is highly coordinated and yields safe events every year. The workshop suggested to the Department and SAPS to use this event to benchmark on best practices that could be replicated in other tourist destinations, particularly around hosting events.
4.11 Media reporting
It was noted that the media reports tend to be reckless and sensationalise issues when reporting on crime incidents. The reportage is mostly negative creating a picture that South Africa is not safe for tourists. The media mostly concentrates on incidents and does not make a follow up on how the government, the police, and the private sector responded to the incidents. A call was made to the media that tourism crime reportage should give a balanced view of the incident and that the media should be patriotic without compromising media freedom. The workshop called for a further engagement with the South African Editors Forum (SANEF) on how media reportage could assist in mitigating negative perceptions about South Africa abroad. SANEF was urged to have dedicated journals that will report on tourism.
4.12 Effectiveness of the criminal justice system
The workshop observed that the report by the Statistician-General indicated that the citizens trust police more than the justice system. This was reinforced by the fact that some of the perpetrators of crimes against tourists were people on parole. The workshop also noted that some of the crimes were committed by tourists themselves, noting that over the years there have been spousal murders motivated by criminal intents. The police and the justice system were identified as critical role players in taking tourism crimes seriously and ensure convictions for perpetrators.
4.13 Absence of some province in the workshop
A concern was raised about some of the provinces that were not part of the workshop. A call for a follow up with them was made. The involvement of all provinces is a paramount necessity for the achievement of the oversight objectives. Achieving collaboration amongst all spheres of government is central in combating crime against tourists and achieving a myriad of other oversight imperatives.
4.14 Feedback mechanism
It was suggested that there should be follow up meetings amongst all stakeholders on how far the implementation of the resolutions of the workshop have been achieved. The Chairpersons suggested quarterly meetings.
4.15 Intensifying the We Do Tourism campaign
The workshop raised the issue that, in most countries they have visited for study tours, the police in those countries are helpful and friendly to tourists. The suggestion was made that the South African Police Service should also be involved in campaigns that will make them friendly to the tourists. The We Do Tourism Campaign can be easily rolled out to the SAPS.
4.16 Dealing with beggars at airports
The workshop raised concerns about “boys’ loitering around at airports who always want to assist with pushing the trolleys and demand money. These are seen as a security threat and the matter should be dealt with immediately between the SAPS and Airports Company South Africa (ACSA).
The following recommendations were crafted from the resolutions of the workshop. The recommendations are directed to the Minister of Tourism and the Minister of Police. The Ministers are expected to report back to the House by 31 March 2020.
5.1 Recommendations to the Minister of Tourism
5.1.1 The Department of Tourism to finalise the Tourism Safety Strategy in consultation with all relevant stakeholders in the country.
5.1.2 The Department of Tourism to finalise the Tourism Safety Strategy in consultation with all relevant stakeholders in the country.
5.1.3 All provinces should develop Tourism Safety Strategies aligned to the National Tourism Safety Strategy developed by the Department of Tourism.
5.1.4 The National Tourism Safety Strategy should include a Crisis Management Plan which will serve as a Tourist Safety Response Plan during times of natural disasters, accidents, and crime incidents.
(a) The Tourist Safety Response Plan should be common across all provinces.
(b) All tourism stakeholders should know what to do when crime or other forms of disaster happen. A Clear Standard Operating Procedures document should be developed to provide the order and flow of operating procedure at the time of incident.
(c) Tourism authorities (DMOs) and SAPS should provide 24/7 assistance and support to tourists in distress.
(d) Creation of a war room by the SAPS at the National Tourist Safety Forum
5.1.5 Provincial tourism departments should sign memorandums of understanding with provincial Commissioners of Police on how to handle tourist safety at a provincial level, similar to the one at national level.
5.1.6 SA Tourism should intensify its brand tracking study across several target markets (more than the current 18 markets) to address the perceptions of South Africa as a leisure travel destination.
5.1.7 SA Tourism, in partnership with Brand South Africa and DIRCO, should intensify PR work to change perceptions of South Africa as a tourism destination abroad.
5.1.8 Stats SA should work closely with SAPS and the Tourism Business Council of South Africa to collect statistics of crime committed against tourists in South Africa to get a complete picture of various categories of crime and to determine the crime hotspots in the country with a view to curate appropriate interventions.
5.1.9 The Tourism Safety Initiative by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa should become part of the National Tourism Safety Strategy.
5.1.10 Stats SA should assist with regular tourism statistics to assist the Portfolio Committee
on Tourism in tracking various variables of the tourism sector.
5.1.11 The Crisis Management War Room leading to the Crisis Management Plan should be developed as part of the National Tourism Safety Strategy.
5.1.12 SA Tourism and TBCSA to reprioritise the TOMSA Levy to fight crime in the identified tourism crime hotspots.
5.1.13 Specific interventions should be developed for the identified crime hotspots such as Mpumalanga (Kruger National Park), OR Tambo International Airport and the Table Mountain National Park.
5.1.14 Metros and major towns to use the Gauteng and Western Cape Tourism Crime strategies as a benchmark when developing their own strategies.
5.1.15 Department of Tourism/SA Tourism to lead a campaign by all provincial DMOs to develop APPs that inform tourists about attractions and what to do when experiencing crisis in local destinations.
5.1.16 Develop effective PR campaigns using celebrities, influencers, and Google search engines to manage perceptions about South Africa as a destination.
5.1.17 Provincial Tourism Authorities must develop Safety Tips for Tourists and Frequently asked questions for destinations.
5.1.18 The National Tourism Safety Strategy, Western Cape, WESGRO, and other provinces, should include townships in their safety plans.
5.1.19 The Department of Tourism and SA Tourism should conduct a benchmarking study to determine to what extent crime is affecting tourism in South Africa.
5.1.20 A Crisis Management Forum to be part of the National Tourism Safety Forum. This should be part of the SAPS communication protocol. This should be a joint war room with the National Safety Forum.
5.1.21 A Task-Team should be established; led by the Department of Tourism, SAPS, and TBCSA; that will report to Parliament bi-annually on the implementation of the resolutions of the Workshop.
5.1.22 The Communication Strategies should also include communication strategies around all forms of crime, including farm murders, as these also create negative perceptions about South Africa.
5.1.23 SANEF, Department of Tourism, SAPS and the Tourism Business Council of South Africa should engage and consider signing a Memorandum of Agreement on crime reportage about South Africa to assist in dealing with perceptions of crime about South Africa.
5.1.24 SANEF should facilitate the appointment of dedicated journalists who report on tourism.
5.1.25 Capacity building of safety monitors by the Department of Tourism, in partnership with SAPS, to ensure that they fulfil both the safety focus and brand/marketing of SA as a tourist destination; including the clarification of reporting lines.
5.1.26 Capacity building of safety monitors should entail training in foreign language skills.
5.1.27 Involve the universities in driving research on crime and other tourism related matters.
5.1.28 Establishment of people driven oversight forums at every village and township in South Africa.
5.1.29 Management of South Africa as a tourism brand working with the media.
5.1.30 A feedback mechanism in a form of follow up meetings should be arranged to assess progress in the implementation of the workshop resolutions.
5.2 Recommendations to the Minister of Police
5.2.1 The Department of Tourism should work closely with SAPS, Provinces, and the Tourism Business Council of South Africa to establish Tourism Safety Forums. These should be convened on regular basis, preferably monthly at the inception, then quarterly as all the stakeholders have grasped their roles and responsibilities.
5.2.2 The SAPS should make a provision in the Crime Administration System (CAS) to enable the system to segregate and reflect crimes committed against tourists.
5.2.3 Roll-out of tourism safety initiatives such as the Safer Festive Season in all provinces.
5.2.4 The Traditional Policing Concept being piloted by SAPS in the Eastern Cape to be rolled-out throughout to all villages around the country.
5.2.5 SAPS working with Metros and major towns to conduct a feasibility study of introducing Tourism Police.
5.2.6 SAPS to consider classifying crimes committed against tourists as tourism crime or economic crime, considering the economic contribution of the sector to the GDP.
5.2.7 SAPS to consider collaborations with private security companies in fighting crime against tourism in the country (Eyes and Ears Project) in all provinces.
5.2.8 Consider benchmarking with Dubai on tourism safety initiatives.
5.2.9 Involvement of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) on gathering intelligence and dealing with crimes committed against tourists.
5.2.10 Ensure involvement of Community Policing Forums in tourist safety initiatives.
5.3 Committee undertaking
The Portfolio Committee on Tourism undertakes to establish a Forum equivalent to a MinMec, working with chairpersons of provinces and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA).
The workshop was a resounding success as it was well attended and substantive issues were addressed. A number of invaluable inputs were harnessed from various stakeholders. These inputs will assist in strengthening the National Tourism Safety Strategy currently being drafted by the Department of Tourism. The Portfolio Committees on Tourism and on Police will follow up on the recommendations, particularly those related to their areas of jurisdiction respectively.
Report to be considered.
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