Tourism mon­i­tors to keep town­ships safe

Vuk'uzenzele - - General -

THE DEPART­MENT of Tourism is boost­ing ef­forts to en­sure that tourists vis­it­ing the coun­try don’t worry about safety.

Tourists vis­it­ing South Africa can rest as­sured that they can safely en­joy their hol­i­days, thanks to a R52.7 mil­lion Tourism Safety Mon­i­tors Pro­gramme.

Tourism Min­is­ter Tokozile Xasa launched the pi­lot pro­gramme in Gaut­eng re­cently. The pro­gramme places youth aged 18-35 in tourism hubs like Vi­lakazi Street in Orlando, Soweto, where they will en­sure the safety of tourists.

The pro­gramme, which fur­ther aims to re­vive the town­ship tourism econ­omy, will also be rolled out to other prov­inces.

One of the East Rand Mon­i­tors, Ruben Tsime said the pro­gramme will be very ben­e­fi­cial to him.

“Be­fore I was se­lected, I was vol­un­teer­ing but it was not work­ing out, now I am em­ployed be­cause of this pro­gramme. The pro­gramme runs for three years and dur­ing that time we will get skills train­ing.”

The Depart­ment of Tourism said the ini­tia­tive is part of its ef­fort to ful­fil the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan man­date which iden­ti­fied the tourism sec­tor as a key to grow­ing the econ­omy.

A se­ries of crime in­ci­dents around tourism hotspots and some di­rected at tourists threat­ened the depart­ment’s po­ten­tial to reach its tar­get of in­creas­ing tourists to Gaut­eng by five mil­lion.

Min­is­ter Xasa ex­pressed the im­por­tance of in­creas­ing vis­i­bil­ity around the hotspots to en­sure that their tar­gets are met, adding that South African Tourism must fil­ter in­for­ma­tion to the man on the street.

The mon­i­tors will be linked to law en­force­ment agen­cies to al­low seam­less flow of in­for­ma­tion and en­gage­ment.

“The aim of the mon­i­tors is to cre­ate ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion, en­sure safety in des­ti­na­tions while giv­ing tourists qual­ity ser­vices and ex­pe­ri­ences,” Min­is­ter Xasa said.

Re­cruit­ing of mon­i­tors

Re­cruit­ment for the mon­i­tors started in June 2017. The cri­te­ria in­cluded youth with ma­tric, good com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills, abil­ity to speak English and two African Lan­guages, pre­pared to work shifts; and with no crim­i­nal record.

All re­cruited Tourism Mon­i­tors will be placed mostly in ar­eas in which they re­side. The place­ment ar­eas are as fol­lows:

• Sed­ibeng – 35 mon­i­tors; • Jo­han­nes­burg area (Vi­lakazi Street, Carl­ton Cen­tre, Park Sta­tion and Red Bus) – 60 mon­i­tors and an ad­di­tional 40 mon­i­tors which will be paid for by Jo­han­nes­burg;

Ekurhu­leni – 35 mon­i­tors of which 10 will be place at the OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port; Tsh­wane – 35 mon­i­tors; and

West Rand – 35 mon­i­tors.

While mon­i­tors will act as am­bas­sadors, the Min­is­ter urged that they as­sist in de­vel­op­ing a data­base of up­com­ing Small Medium and Mi­cro En­ter­prise (SMMEs) Busi­nesses in their ar­eas of place­ment.

Mon­i­tors will also need to iden­tify links in the value chain that may need im­prove­ment

• such as points for trans­porta­tion in be­tween the var­i­ous at­trac­tions and traf­fic con­ges­tion points.

Do­mes­tic Tourists

The depart­ment said while it is tar­get­ing four mil­lion in­ter­na­tional tourists, it also wants to in­crease do­mes­tic tourism by one mil­lion in Gaut­eng.

“We all do tourism in very dif­fer­ent ways, many peo­ple see it as an ex­pe­ri­ence that is about trav­el­ling to for­eign places but you can’t ex­pe­ri­ence things else­where if you don’t start at home. We are en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to start at home,” the depart­ment’s Deputy Director Gen­eral Shamilla Chet­tiar said.

De­vel­op­ing the do­mes­tic tourism is seen as a way to ad­dress chal­lenges such as sea­son­al­ity, where there are dips in tourist num­bers.

Tourism and the econ­omy

Tourism is a sig­nif­i­cant and crit­i­cal sec­tor in South Africa’s econ­omy as it con­trib­utes to trade, sus­tains 700 000 di­rect jobs and is per­form­ing stronger than the other growth sec­tors. De­spite the eco­nomic slow-down the coun­try had recorded its 7th year of sus­tained growth in tourism.

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