The hiking trail industry is under serve strain - a situation aggravated by the latest attack. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - The provincial tourism industry is set to lose R200 million a year should the crime rate go up by 1%.

Several crimes have hampered the industry and already tourist figures from traditional tourism destinations like France and the UK have dropped slightly.

Alan Winde, the MEC for Economic Opportunities and Tourism, together with his top officials briefed the legislature’s standing committee on tourism about the impact of crime.

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“We have many risks, but crime is another risk we are having to deal with. We had a plan for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, and have continued with it,” Winde said.

Rashid Toefy, the deputy director general for economic operations, said ATM fraud, bus attacks and incidents on Table Mountain were prioritised areas.

“We have seen the police step up their efforts to attend to these crimes, but these incidents have brought to the fore the vulnerability of the industry. Technology and co-ordination play a major role in safety, and we are hoping to use some of these lessons learnt in other sectors,” he said.

Nezaam Joseph, the acting chief director for economic sector support, said crime had a larger impact on travel for personal reasons than for business purposes.

He said the provincial government conducted a cursory study on the impact of crime on tourism.

“A total of 42% of respondents ruled out a destination because of a perception of crime. Eighty percent of tourism marketing is word of mouth, and social media such as Instagram and Facebook. The severity of sensationalised stories by international media does have an immediate impact on cancellations,” he said.

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He added that tourists from a developed country expected a stable environment.

“Cape Town is perceived to be a developed city, and it is for that reason that most tourists coming here take crime incidents so hard,” he said.

Muneeb Hendriks, the manager at the Cape Town Central Improvement District, said ATM fraud was a massive problem.

“Criminals target tourists because they are easy pickings. There are criminals who dress very well purporting to help tourists at ATMs, who subsequently rob them. We have, for this reason, deployed officers at hotspots, and there has been a marked improvement,” he said.

Gavin Bell, the area manager of Table Mountain National Park, said the mountain presented easy pickings for opportunistic criminals.

“The terrain has no cellphone signal, there is open access to the nature park with multiple, open entry points and a permeable, unfenced boundary within an urban setting. They also target the mountain because it has suitable targets with something of value,” he said.

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Cape Argus