Johannesburg - The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is no threat to tourism in South Africa, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi said on Tuesday.
“Government reiterates that South Africa remains the destination of choice for tourism,” she said in a statement.
“No cases of the Ebola virus have been reported in the country, and government is confident of the systems and protocols that are in place to address any incidence of the virus.”
Muthambi was responding to an article in The Times newspaper which claimed tourists from Asian countries had cancelled trips to the country over fears of contracting the deadly virus.
The paper reported that at least 1 500 tourists from Thailand had cancelled their trips scheduled for August and September.
“It is unfortunate that the newspaper would choose to report that a handful of tourists cancelled their trip due to fears, which according to the report are based on erroneous facts about the virus.”
Muthambi said the risk of Ebola being introduced into South Africa remained low and the tourism industry remained vibrant and lucrative.
The virus has devastated countries in West Africa with the death toll standing at 1145. According to the Agence France-Presse news agency, Liberia had the highest death toll in the epidemic since the start of the year.
Its toll of 413 dead last week overtook that of Sierra Leone and Guinea where the outbreak began.
Muthambi said tourist arrivals to South Africa in 2013 showed positive growth from all regions. She said the country was one of the most-sought after global destinations offering a diverse variety of unforgettable experiences, which included leisure, business and events.
“As a sought-after destination, government reiterates that it has ensured that stringent measures have been put in place. The surveillance for viral haemorrhagic fevers has been strengthened at ports of entry,” she said. - Sapa