TOURISM SE­CU­RITY A Com­par­i­son on Safety Tips

Tourism Tattler - - TBCSA INFOSUM #1 SAFETY & SECURITY -

Like many other tourist des­ti­na­tions in the world, it could be ar­gued that South Africa has some way to go to man­age the trade-off be­tween pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion to trav­ellers about safety and se­cu­rity con­sid­er­a­tions ver­sus the im­por­tant task of growing tourist num­bers into the coun­try.

The coun­try's cli­mate, scenery, in­fra­struc­ture, its friendly peo­ple and a pos­i­tive ex­change rate all con­trib­ute to make South Africa a very at­trac­tive tourist des­ti­na­tion. And with the visa de­ba­cle now be­hind us, there is vir­tu­ally noth­ing that stands in the way of in­creas­ing tourist ar­rivals into the coun­try.

Or is there? Safety and se­cu­rity is al­ways up­held as our Achilles' heel, but if that is the case, why is a coun­try like Thai­land still wel­com­ing more tourists than South Africa as a tourism des­ti­na­tion? Could it be due to amongst other things, the way they deal with mat­ters of safety and se­cu­rity?

One pos­si­ble an­swer is that it could have to do with how safety and se­cu­rity mat­ters are com­mu­ni­cated and in­te­grated into their mar­ket­ing strat­egy. In a coun­try like Thai­land, de­spite hav­ing a much poorer safety and se­cu­rity record re­gard­ing tourist than South Africa, they are expecting 33 mil­lion tourists this year, which will be more than dou­ble the num­ber to visit South Africa. And in a re­cent ar­ti­cle the Thai­land gov­ern­ment has vowed to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion, so no at­tempt is made at hid­ing the facts.

Look­ing at the se­lec­tion of South African web­sites that deal with Tourism Safety (see anal­y­sis graphic along­side), and how they com­mu­ni­cate re­gard­ing mat­ters of safety and se­cu­rity, what lessons can be learned?

Firstly, one has to ac­knowl­edge that this is but the tip of the ice­berg when it comes to tourism safety and se­cu­rity ad­vice. Vir­tu­ally ev­ery ho­tel and ac­com­mo­da­tion fa­cil­ity will have some ad­vice or warn­ing mech­a­nism in place, be it elec­tronic, brochures, z-fold­ers, or even ver­bal warn­ings. The same also goes for ev­ery lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­ity, es­pe­cially within tourism dom­i­nated ar­eas. This study there­fore does not pro­fess to be ex­haus­tive.

There are a num­ber of com­mon themes that run through these safety tips. In most cases they deal with the var­i­ous places where a tourist may find her­self in the “travel value chain”, i.e. at the air­port, in the ve­hi­cle, on the street, at the ac­com­mo­da­tion fa­cil­ity, at places of leisure/at­trac­tion.

In most cases emer­gency num­bers are pro­vided, and in some cases also a list of em­bassy num­bers.

Only in a few in­stances is in­for­ma­tion pro­vided on card fraud preven­tion – this de­spite the fact that this is one of the ma­jor crimes af­fect­ing tourists (with ATM scams).

A few sites deal with how to pos­i­tively iden­tify members of the SAPS, by im­pli­ca­tion sug­gest­ing this may be a prob­lem.

There is lim­ited in­for­ma­tion on deal­ing with safety is­sues, as op­posed to se­cu­rity, i.e. ill­nesses, malaria, wild an­i­mals (granted, this is likely to be in the fo­cus at ar­eas where this may be rel­e­vant).

In most in­stances warn­ings are phrased in a neg­a­tive man­ner, i.e. “do not”.

In many cases the safety and se­cu­rity in­for­ma­tion is “hid­den” be­hind other in­for­ma­tion that mar­kets the des­tiny. This is un­der­stand­able, but in some cases nav­i­gat­ing to find such in­for­ma­tion is dif­fi­cult. Note – this is not a phe­nom­e­non unique only to South African tourism au­thor­i­ties/as­so­ci­a­tions.

There is, with the ex­cep­tion of the pro­vi­sion of emer­gency num­bers, vir­tu­ally no ad­vice on how to re­spond to var­i­ous types of vic­tim­i­sa­tion. In other words – if you have been a vic­tim of card fraud, fol­low these steps, or if you had your pass­port stolen, then these are the steps. The Tourism Safety Ini­tia­tive (TSI) web­site pro­vides in­for­ma­tion under two dif­fer­ent sec­tions − an open area, and a se­cure por­tal for clients. In the open area, gen­eral alerts and in­for­ma­tion on fraud preven­tion is dis­played. There is also spe­cific in­for­ma­tion for trav­el­ers and for busi­nesses. The NDT web­site lists is­sues re­lat­ing to safety and se­cu­rity. Although rea­son­ably com­pre­hen­sive, there are a num­ber of “don't's” or “not's”, i.e. say­ing what tourist should not do, rather than what they should. SAT's rec­om­men­da­tions go under the guise of safety pre­cau­tions and safety ad­vice. In gen­eral these tips, al­beit short, tend to have a pos­i­tive mes­sage/tone.

Pro­ject Con­sul­tant, Tourism Safety Ini­tia­tive, Tourism Busi­ness Coun­cil of South Africa

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