By October, 86 tourism monitors will be on the ground in the park and cameras and drone technology will be implemented by December.
James Vos, mayco member for economic opportunities and asset management, says the changes will play an important role in ensuring the safety of Table Mountain National Park visitors. “I welcome the steps taken by the National Department of Tourism and will closely monitor the progress to ensure visitor safety. As a city, we will do our best to ensure tourists and locals alike are safe, by working with the tourism role players and the relevant law enforcement and policing agencies.”
Not all concerned parties are convinced, however, that the changes will be effective in stopping crime. Andre van Schalkwyk, spokesperson for the Table Mountain Safety Alliance Group, said: “Whatever plans they have must be sustainable and not quick fixes. We’ve heard promises like this before and need to understand further the role of these tourism monitors and how the drones will be used.”
Brent Thomas, owner of Karbonkelberg Tourism, said: “The only thing that will help is to teach locals about the mountains and how to lead tours.”
Taahir Osman, creator of Take Back Our Mountains, agrees. “Criminals mostly come from poor communities surrounding these parks. SANParks should identify champions from those very communities and train them with the necessary skills that would contribute to crime reduction,” he said.
Outdoor enthusiasts and tourism industry leaders are eager to see what difference the SANParks initiatives will actually make to the safety of visitors. Until then, Van Schalkwyk says, community leaders will continue to implement their own plans of action to keep people safe.