Murder of German tourist had ruinous effect on SA tourism

The entrance near to the Kruger Park where a German tourist was shot dead.

The entrance near to the Kruger Park where a German tourist was shot dead.

Published Oct 15, 2022


Tourism contributed some R209 billion to the fiscus in 2019. The sector also employed 773 533 people, about one in every 21 people with a job.

But that was 2019, before Covid arrived, put a halt to travel and decimated the industry.

Now with travel and occupancy restrictions consigned to the past, the industry is slowly picking itself up.

In a climate of regular power cuts, unpredictable water supply in some areas and the closure of four airlines, this is no mean task.

And it is showing in the numbers.

Both domestic (228%) and foreign (216%) tourism appear to be increasing in leaps and bounds, according to Stats SA data, but this is off a low base from mid-Covid conditions in July 2021.

In addition, with the festive season looming, local flight capacity is expected to be low, meaning ticket prices will reach new highs.

In these circumstances, the last thing the country needed was the murder of German Jörg Schnarr on the doorstep of the Kruger National Park, one of South Africa's premier tourism destinations.

Now searches for the Kruger will come up with results including "Murder of German tourist".

To her credit, Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu reacted well. She and her officials consoled and helped Schnarr’s widow and the other tourists present when her husband was killed.

The incident could not have come at a worse time. There had been a notable increase in tourists from Germany, following the quiet Covid years, and Germany had just decided to lay on a new flight to Mpumalanga.

While this arrangement is still expected to proceed, German media are already asking: “German killed: How safe are tourists in South Africa?”

Sisulu's reaction to the issue is having tourists watch a safety video on arrival in South Africa.

Surely the solution lies in addressing the atrociously high levels of crime, to benefit not just tourists, but South Africans too who must daily run the gauntlet of home invasions, hijackings, rapes and murders?

But this would not occur to someone cocooned from such realities, and who does not experience load shedding and does not pay for water and electricity.

The Independent on Saturday