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Media Statement after the attack of tourists at Waterval Boven (Mpumalanga): Tourism safety in the Mpumalanga Province: A priority for the Department

28 November 2005

The Department of Economic Development & Planning is deeply concerned about the recent rise in attacks of tourists visiting our Province. Attacks on tourist like the recent one at Waterval Boven on the 5th and the 18th of November 2005 have been on the rise as we are nearing the festive season. These kind of criminal activities not only threaten the tourism industry in the Province, but also threaten the livelihood of local residents who benefit from these tourism activities. If tourists are driven out of the Province, the cost of job losses by bread-winners and the closure of tourists’ destination will be severe and have dire consequences to the economy of the Province as a whole.

In response to these criminal activities, the Department has deployed 124 Tourism Monitors to hot sports areas. The Department has allocated 84 Tourism Monitors at the Lowveld region (Ehlanzeni District), 26 Tourism Monitors at the Highveld region (eNkangala District) and 14 Tourism Monitors at the Eastern Highveld region (Gert Sibande District). All these Tourism Monitors attended courses on “SA Host” and some on “Introduction to Tourism and Site Guiding. Their duties are: Providing a visible and effective information service to tourists and visitors, Site guiding to tourist attraction sites, distribution of safety tips and reporting on incidents on tourists. Their day-to-day placement and supervision is under the control of local Station Commissioner. This program has started to bear positive results as two suspects who robbed tourist at ZAZM Tunnel were arrested with the help of Tourism Monitors.

As a Department, we have also installed six (6) CCTV cameras at Pilgrims Rest after an attempted murder that took place in that area. Crime statistics from the South African Police Service (SAPS) has shown a decline of criminal activities in this area since we installed these cameras. The Department is also looking for other technological measures to assist in combating crime in tourism attractions and mountainous areas as these are very remote areas and far from the public.

The Department has also established a Priority Committee on tourism safety in the three district regions – the Lowveld, the Highveld and the Eastern Highveld. Our stakeholders, namely: Department of Safety and Security, SAPS, District & Local Municipalities, Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs), Local Tourism Organisations (LTOs), Department of Roads and Transport, Department of Public Works, Mpumalanga Parks and Tourism (MPT) and the South African National Defence Force, are all playing a role in unpacking issues relating to safety of tourists and matters relating to criminal statistical data. All these stakeholders are committed to eliminate criminal activities in the Tourism industry.

Tourism has been labeled the new gold discovery in South Africa and the Continent as a whole in recent years. Together with all our stakeholders, we are committed in making Mpumalanga, a number one tourist destination and a safe province for both local and international tourists. That is why we have taken the above actions and we are still looking for further measures to effectively protect our tourism industry from criminals who are threatening to alienate our tourists; consequently a loss of revenue generating industry which has a potential to contribute immensely in fast-tracking the economic development of the Province. Tourism safety will remain one of the important priorities of the Department.

Issued by Communication
Head of Communication
Simangaliso Shongwe
Department of Economic Development and Planning
Tel: 013 766 4121
Mobile: 082 332 6317

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