Johan Burger, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, said it was becoming increasingly difficult to market the country as more people emigrate to countries like Australia and New Zealand.
“That does not paint a really good picture of the country when its own citizens are leaving because of the crime situation. We have so many attacks on tourists in Cape Town and Johannesburg. In the Cape, the beautiful walking trails and Table Mountain can often be a haven for criminals. These are the places tourist frequent,” he said.
“We had an attack on a bus transporting Dutch tourists. Now these are targeted attacks on tourists who have iPads, expensive iPhones and cameras and most with monies on them. It’s easy pickings for criminals. These kinds of attacks might not make the front pages of newspapers but, in the Netherlands, it sparked quite an uproar. Our visitors are not used to these kinds of attacks,” he said.
UPROAR: Dr Johan Burger
There was also some growth in the Middle East and Australasian markets which showed 4.4% and 1.4% growth since 2016 respectively.
“It is true that these issues are eating at our profits. But we must remember that these issues of crime are not in South Africa alone. When one tourist is mugged in our country, that sparks major news, while in Paris maybe 10 tourists get mugged, but that hardly gets the media’s attention. Yes, crime is negatively affecting the tourism sector but, like many other problems in our country, we have a counter-act to it. Like airport safety in Gauteng was a problem, we hardly see those problems [anymore],” he said.
“When we have a terrorist attack in Kenya, that affects tourist arrivals in South Africa. When one waits a long time for a taxi or an Uber at the airport that is perceived to be a massive problem, as if the whole system is a failure. When the same happens in America or Europe, it’s perceived differently,” he said.