Dispelling the myth of ‘unsafe’ destinations
Candice Soobramoney and her husband Darin Naidoo travel internationally once a year. The South African couple usually choose affordable destinations filled with adventure and immersive experiences.
This year though, Candice and Darin have been conflicted about which destination to choose.
They had Bali on their bucket list, but natural disasters prompted them to rethink. Their second choice, Turkey, was hit by negative news in recent years, especially terrorism concerns. Candice and Darin are among many South Africans who do not want to travel abroad because of natural disasters, terrorism and crime.
Sara Park, the product and marketing campaign manager of Flight Centre, debunks the myths of unsafe destinations:
Its negative wrap: Tropical Cyclone Idai caused havoc in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, killing more than a thousand people. It is believed to be one of the worst tropical cyclones ever in Africa.
Changing the perception: Park said that most parts of Mozambique were still safe for travel despite the cyclone.
“Mozambique remains an attractive destination for South Africans. Most provinces within South Africa provide easy access to the country. The country is known for its friendly locals, seafood dishes and unspoilt beaches,” she said.
Places to check out: For those who love to catch a tan, or go fishing, Ponta do Ouro is a stunning town worth seeing. The seaside town is known for its beaches, dolphin sightings and water sport. Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, is perfect for those who want to take in the culture and cuisine.
Its negative wrap: Pickpocketing and other petty crimes by locals.
Change the perception: The country made CNN’s list of best places to visit this year. A September 2018 UNWTO global travel and tourism annual report said Egypt saw a 55% increase in visitors, making it the world’s fastest-growing destination.
“Egypt is starting to bounce back and drawing in many international and local travellers. Guests who are apprehensive of travelling to the country can book guided tours or travel with a group,” she said.
Places to check out: One of Egypt’s biggest tourist drawcards is the Pyramid of Giza - the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex bordering El Giza. The Great Sphinx of Giza is another place worth exploring. For those big on history, The Valley of the Kings is the burial ground for pharaohs such as Tutankhamun, Seti I, and Ramses II.
Its negative wrap: Turkey has been hit by many terrorist attacks in recent years, which prompted safety concerns among travellers.
Changing the perception: Park said travellers should not let fear stop them from seeing the world.
“Terrorism incidents cannot be predicted. Turkey is a beautiful country with many hidden gems and has seen a big tourism boom in recent years.
“The Turkish government is constantly updating travellers on any potential threats. Travellers visiting Turkey or any other country should always be street smart. They should be vigilant at all times,” she said.
Places to check out: Take a stroll through the streets of Istanbul, go on a hot air balloon safari at Cappadocia or delve into the history at Ephesus.
Its negative wrap: Bali was hit by many natural disasters in recent years, including an earthquake while an estimated 6.5 magnitude tremor hit Lombok last August.
Changing the perception: Bali is a bucket list destination for many South Africans. It is filled with historical landmarks, water sports activities and one fares well with the rand. Park said travellers should speak to their travel agent who has direct links with locals in Bali.
“Bali does have warnings in place and are well prepared to handle any disaster. Travellers can speak with a travel expert who will be able to share information and assist them should any issue arise once there,” she said.
Park said that Bali was one of those destinations that did not require a visa for travellers staying in the country up to 30 days.
Places to check out: The country is known for its culture and history. There’s something for everyone. Young adults can head to one of its lively bars in Kuta, while those who want to know about the religion can visit the famous cliff side temple called Uluwatu Temple. Seminyak, Sanur and Nusa Dua are popular resort towns. Bali is also renowned for its many yoga and meditation retreats.