Inform your guests of crime and safety issues

Sunny skies, beautiful beaches, vibrant cities, top-class wildlife experiences …there is one blemish on this otherwise rosy picture…

South Africa is a near perfect holiday destination, and is often at the top of international travellers’ holiday wish lists. Sunny skies, beautiful beaches, vibrant cities, topclass wildlife experiences all put the country in an enviable position. And that’s not mentioning the value for money overseas travellers can get here when they convert their currencies. Yet there is one blemish on this otherwise rosy picture: there is way too much crime in South Africa, and it can affect tourists and tourism.

It has become clear in the press lately that criminals are targeting tourists more frequently, and that these incidents are not just happening in the rural areas, but at airports, hotels and other tourist destinations. And this is not just a South African phenomenon either – these incidences are occurring globally on an ever-increasing scale.

As an accommodation establishment owner, manager or promoter, it will prove difficult to strike a balance between attracting  guests with all the positive and beautiful things the country and your region has to offer, yet still being ethical enough to let your guests know that crime is an issue, and that every precaution should be taken to keep safe.

It is said that to be forewarned is to be forearmed. It is important that you inform your guests of any possible security threat they may have, yet in such a way that doesn't keep them from visiting our shores. Crime can strike anyone in any country and city in the world, and visitors to our incredible country should be made aware of this. As with travel in any part of the world, keeping a sensible and practical attitude towards your personal safety is key.

We recommend that you have a look at the safety tips and warnings on the South African Police Services website www.saps.gov.za. Depending on what area you are in, give your guests the tips you feel are appropriate. In parts of the Garden Route and the Eastern Cape people still leave their doors unlocked. In Johannesburg in particular crime has been at an all time high recently with several high profile incidents where guests arriving via OR Tambo international airport have been followed and robbed on arrival at their hotel or guest house.

Our advice to Johannesburg establishments in the northern suburbs is to advise guests to follow routes which pass through either or both the filter points at the corner of Long Ave and Summer Way in Glenhazel and cnr African and Trilby streets in Oaklands. These filter points are manned 16 hours a day and if a car driving through feels it is being followed it can hoot or flick lights and the security staff on duty will challenge the car behind them. More info can be found on www.neap.co.za.www.neap.co.za.

As a general principle, tourists are usually away from home territory which makes them far more vulnerable than locals. If you see your guests looking really unaware and they are stacked with jewellery suggest that they should put away their tiaras and rather walk around purposefully and with cameras out of sight.

Do warn them of areas to avoid. And if you see they are going out without locking away valuables do suggest to them that they do and that they should lock their bedroom door.

We recommend that if there are any neighbourhood security initiatives or a local community police forum you join and participate by going to meetings. That way you will be informed about what is going on in your area and you will be doing the best you can to keep your guests safe.