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South Africa seeks to boost tourism with new safety measures

by Staff Reporter
15 Jan 2024 at 13:32hrs | Views
South Africa is seeking to boost its tourism revival with the introduction of new measures to improve security, including the Tourism Monitor initiative.

As South Africa's tourism sector shows signs of recovery, the country faces the dual challenge of attracting international visitors while addressing concerns over crime and safety.

Despite these challenges, there is a renewed sense of optimism as the country implements various strategies to ensure the safety of tourists, including the travel pass for South Africa.

The country has recently seen a significant increase in international visitors, indicating a potential return to pre-pandemic tourism levels. Particularly from the United States.

"The U.S. remains a top international source market for South Africa and has been recording robust, steady growth in arrivals in 2023," Patricia De Llle, the country's tourism minister, said.

According to a Statistics South Africa study released on December 19, 7.6 million foreign visitors entered the nation between January and November 2023.

The primary source of inbound travel to the country is still inter-regional travel from Africa, accounting for 5.8 million arrivals in this timeframe.

This is up 76% from the same period in 2022. Analysts predict that the increase of Pan-African travel will be sustained by the expansion of Africa's middle class.

Around 15% of all arrivals to South Africa came from Europe from January to November of 2023, with a far smaller rise of 43% year over year.

South Africa's greatest international source market before the epidemic, Britain, has been surpassed by more visitors from North America in 2023.

With 73,037 visitors in the previous year, the number of visitors from Asia is still quite low.

De Lille emphasized that in order to "unlock" South Africa's full tourist potential from Asia Pacific, it is imperative to overcome the country's current visa restrictions as well as its restricted air access and lift from the region.

Nevertheless, there's no doubt that travel interest in South Africa is growing. Still, the amount of visitors was 17% less than the 10.2 million that came in 2019.

And the shadow of crime remains a concern.

To combat this, the Department of Tourism has initiated the deployment of over 2,300 tourism monitors across the country to complement local police.

These monitors are tasked with patrolling key tourist attractions, offering information, and ensuring the safety of visitors.

The Department of Tourism provided $9.5 million (R174.5 million) in funding for the Tourism Monitors initiative, which was scheduled to launch in the middle of December.

However, all 9 provinces in South Africa do not yet have monitors in place.

James Vos, a member of the City of Cape Town's Mayoral Committee, stated that the nation must "pull out all the stops to ensure the safety of visitors and locals".

But in addition to national efforts, local governments are also taking proactive steps.

The City of Cape Town, for instance, has deployed a special Tourism Unit consisting of over 4,000 enforcement and emergency personnel.

This unit focuses on patrolling popular tourist attractions like Table Mountain, Signal Hill, and the Waterfront. Cape Town Tourism also offers various safety mechanisms, including the TravelWise platform and the Namola safety response app.

To strengthen security in Rosebank, a well-liked Johannesburg suburb, the Johannesburg Tourism Company has partnered with the Rosebank Districts (RMD and LRMD) and Oxford Parks Management District.

The Tourism Ambassador program will help visitors with safety and navigation in Rosebank throughout the busiest summer months, with 36 so-called ambassadors keeping an eye on the area alongside precinct security and pertinent stakeholders.

The private sector has also stepped up, with the Tourism Business Council of South Africa launching the Secura Traveller tourism safety app.

This app connects tourists with over 200 service providers, including private security, medical, and translation services, in case of emergencies.

Addressing broader security concerns, South Africa has strengthened its border controls with the establishment of the Border Management Authority (BMA). This agency aims to prevent illegal entries and enhance regional stability.

The government of South Africa maintains that the goal of its new border agency is border protection, not migrant exclusion.

"Every country I know in the world is interested to know what is going on at their borders, what is coming in and what is going out," South African Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has said,

"So, we are not about to apologize to anybody for deploying border guards to do what other nations of the world are doing," Motsoaledi added.

Ngqabutho Mabhena, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa, respects the new border authority measures, but said that it is not the answer to illegal immigration.

"As long as the economies of the region are not developed at least to the level of the South African economy, we are going to continue to have these challenges where migrants from neighboring countries want to go to South Africa for greener pastures," he stated.

Source - Byo24News