Since her arrival in the Department of Tourism, the sector has raised great concern about safety affecting tourism, to the extent that international arrivals to South Africa have dropped, according to Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.
The challenges around safety had negatively affected our major markets, in her view.
That is why her department engaged with the minister of police and various stakeholders, with the result that, what she deems to be a workable Tourism Safety Plan, was created.
Fin24 reported in November that the issue of safety and security has become a severe threat to South Africa's very important tourism sector, according to Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA).
SA Tourism (SAT) surveys in 18 countries have shown that foreign travellers see safety and security perceptions as a barrier when considering SA as a destination.
The new plan integrates proactive preventative measures to potential incidents and responsive measures that to ensure quick and effective operational response, and an aftercare programme that focuses on measures to facilitate and provide victim support after an incident had occurred.
In the long term, the Tourism Monitors Programme will be remodelled so that that they are linked with SAPS Community Policing Forums and Community Safety Patrollers as part of the SAPS Community Policing Strategy.
"Our task as a sector is immense as we occupy the number two spot in the list of government priorities. This is because the government understands the potential of this sector to economic growth and job creation," Kubayi-Ngubane said in a statement.
"This strategy has been costed and we are confident of its implementation through this festive season and over the next six months as a pilot programme."
She said R40m has been prioritised from the Tourism Marketing South Africa (TOMSA) levy towards dealing with safety issues.
The implementation plan and the initiatives of the private sector are funded through the Tourism Business Council South Africa (TBCSA) administered tourism levy.
The pilot interventions include the deployment of private security at tourism hotspots as well as the use of technology like CCTV cameras and drones and the integration and deployment of tourism monitors at private establishments for early warning and reporting of incidents and sharing information on potential risks.
"We want to emphasize the importance of collaborative effort in dealing decisively with the safety of our visitors and to ensure that South Africa remains a destination of choice, and committed to bring in more partners into the fight against crime in general and tourism safety in particular," said Kubayi-Ngubane.
The SA tourism industry faces a time of "business unusual" where many factors conspire against it, Christelle Grohmann, director of the tourism specialist unit at professional services firm BDO, recently told Fin24.
The latest Tourism Business Index (TBI) by BDO indicates that the private sector does not feel a turnaround is going to come any time soon. In fact, the 2019 TBI reflected the second lowest index figure in a 9-year period.