Minister of Police Bheki Cele and his counterpart in tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane announce joint operation to combat attacks on tourists this festive season. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

The Ministry of Tourism and the SA police have announced a joint tourism safety plan ahead of the festive season in South Africa.

Security has been a top priority for the Goverment of South Africa and President Cyril Ramaphosa at this year’s Indaba reiterated his government’s efforts in addressing the issue.

The Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane in a series of engagements with stakeholders in the tourism industry assured them of the ministry’s collaboration with other state agencies to tackle the menace.

The Minister and her counterpart from the police have unveiled a joint plan to ensure that security is alert ahead of the festive season and beyond.

Addressing the media, Mrs Kubayi-Ngubane said "We engaged with the Minister of Police and various stakeholders, which has led us to today’s announcements resulting from collaborative efforts by us as the Department on behalf of our sector represented by TBCSA and the Police.’’

"Accordingly, we have crafted a workable Tourism Safety Plan, integrating a (1) proactive preventative measures to potential incidents (2) Responsive measures that will ensure quick and effective operational response, and most importantly (3) An aftercare programme that focuses on measures to facilitate and provide victim support after an incident has occurred."

"We are implementing a six-month tourism safety pilot and we hope the public will see results this yuletide. We will also engage with the Police Minister to come up with collaborated efforts to improve tourism safety,’’ the minister added.

The Minister of Police Bheki Cele said, "SAPS is currently rolling out its holiday season strategy with a special focus on the coastal provinces and Mpumalanga. He added that, the Police and the Tourism Ministry have recently signed an MOU to improve tourism safety.

The head of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa said: "We are fully behind the preventative interventions that will be initiated in the interest of protecting tourists. Today is a great day for tourism, especially when government responds to a dire issue that hampers tourist arrivals."

The launch of the Tourism Police Reserve services is among the proposed long term solutions that form part of the MOU between Tourism and SAPS.

Below is the full statement of the Minister of Tourism

JOINT TOURISM SAFETY PLAN FOR FESTIVE SEASON IS ANNOUNCED
Firstly, let me start by appreciating the support received from Minister of Police Bheki Cele and South African Police.

Since my arrival in the Department of Tourism, the sector has raised great concern about safety affecting tourism, to the extent that our international arrivals to South Africa have dropped. Without a doubt, the challenges around safety had negatively affected our major markets.
We engaged with the Minister of Police and various stakeholders, which has led us to today’s announcements resulting from collaborative efforts by us as the Department on behalf of our sector represented by TBCSA and the Police.

Accordingly, we have crafted a workable Tourism Safety Plan, integrating a (1) proactive preventative measures to potential incidents (2) Responsive measures that will ensure quick and effective operational response, and most importantly (3) An aftercare programme that focuses on measures to facilitate and provide victim support after an incident has occurred.

The strategy, to guide our response to the challenges of tourism safety that impacts on the country’s tourism potential, was developed in consultation with various structures. We can also share that a forum has been established and includes representatives from the various stakeholders in the industry representing, Airlines, Rail Operators, Accommodation etc.

In the long term, we will remodel the Tourism Monitors Programme so that that they are linked with SAPS Community Policing Forums and Community Safety Patrollers as part of SAPS Community Policing Strategy.
Our task as a sector is immense as we occupy the number two spot in the list of government priorities. This is because the government understands the potential of this sector to economic growth and job creation.

This strategy has been costed and we are confident of its implementation through this festive season and over the next six months as a pilot programme.

The Minister of Police will go into details on the plans in as far as it relates to policing.
We believe that the public will see value in government efforts and the intervention measures implemented for this festive season.

The joint effort between government and the private sector is evidenced today by these partnerships formed to deal decisively with the safety of our visitors and to ensure that South Africa remains a destination of choice.
I am pleased to announce that R40million from the TOMSA levy has been reprioritized towards dealing with safety issues.
The implementation plan and the initiatives of the private sector initiatives is funded through the Tourism Business Council South Africa (TBCSA) administered Tourism Levy. The pilot interventions include:

  1. Private security to work under the command of police
  2. Use of Technology, to respond to the challenges
  3. Integration and deployment of Tourism Monitors at private establishments including the interphase of operators to interact with various provincial joint operations centres for early warning, reporting incidents and sharing information on potential risks

As a department, we continue to invite the public sector to come partner with us for the good of the country and effectively our economy.
We want to emphasize the importance of collaborative effort in dealing decisively with the safety of our visitors and to ensure that South Africa remains a destination of choice , and committed to bring in more partners into the fight against crime in general and tourism safety in particular.
We are certain that with this plan, our guests and South Africans traveling will also have a pleasant time visiting our various attractions until their safe return home.

Voyages Afriq