Negative reporting on Cape Town 'not conducive to tourism'
Cape Town – Information being spread on international travel sites about Cape Town being a dangerous tourist destination has impacted the economy negatively, and the Covid-19 pandemic may only serve to increase uncertainty among travellers.
CyberTracker Conservation executive director Louis Liebenberg said: “From a national tourism point of view, the Table Mountain National Park is one of the most important drawcards for foreign tourists. Governments like those of the UK, Canada and Australia, as well as popular travel websites like Lonely Planet have singled out violent crime on Table Mountain in official travel warnings. This is therefore an issue of national importance to our tourism economy.”
He said the total budget for all SANParks in South Africa was about R2 billion per year and, given the potential impact on national tourism, the cost of making the Table Mountain National Park safe for visitors could be much less than the potential loss to the national economy.
“It would therefore be rational for the Department of Environmental Affairs to allocate a budget dedicated to safety in the Table Mountain National Park,” he said.
The department said the effect of Covid-19 meant certain things needed to be reviewed to ensure the budget is shared among the 19 national parks.
“There is therefore a definite need for money and we do go out and request ordinary South Africans’ assistance and we also fund-raise for certain things in terms of our budget,” they said.
Friends of Table Mountain founding member Nicky Schmidt said: “The numerous reports ranking Cape Town as one of the most dangerous cities in the world is hardly conducive to tourism, particularly when there are plenty of safer places in the world to visit.
Despite the Western Cape no longer being the murder capital of South Africa, according to the 2020 crime stats, the province does occupy six of the top 10 stations for murder: Nyanga remains in the first place, followed by Delft, Khayelitsha, Inanda, Philippi East, Mthatha, Umlazi, Harare, Plessislaer and Gugulethu.
Schmidt added: “However, in the time of a pandemic it is difficult to estimate the current impact of travel warnings.”
She said prior to the pandemic personal reports indicated that many visitors would not visit those parts of Cape Town they personally deemed to be high risk. Others indicated they would not visit at all.
“We need to see better visible policing, better use of available methods of policing, better arrests, including detention and rehabilitation rates. There have been previous attempts at joint initiatives to address crime within Table Mountain National Park, but there seems to have been limited success in maintaining the sustainability of these joint interventions. This raises serious questions,” she said.
Mayco member for economic opportunities and asset management James Vos said: “We have seen what negative messaging can do in the past, with headlines such as ’Day Zero’ and ’Crime Capital’. We must now focus on positive messaging that builds confidence and momentum.”
He said Cape Town Tourism played a supportive role in ensuring visitor safety and comfort across the city. However, the responsibility of policing lay primarily with the South African Police Service as the lead agency.