26 July 2017
POLICE INTERVENTION AT ORTIA A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION – TOURISM BUSINESS COUNCIL
Fast Tourism Fact: In 2016, South Africa’s visitor exports generated a total of ZAR128.3bn (9.9% of total exports). This is forecast to grow by 4.4% in 2016, and grow by 7.3% pa, from 2017-2027, to ZAR271.3bn in 2027 (14.4% of total). World Travel & Tourism Council
Pretoria, South Africa: The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) welcomes the latest measures taken by the National Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, his colleagues within national, provincial and local government, as well as the management of Airports Council of South Africa (ACSA) to deal with incidents of crime and overall security in and around OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA).
At a media briefing held on Friday, 21 July, Minister Mbalula announced wide-ranging steps to be undertaken by the South African Police Service (SAPS), in collaboration with ACSA and various law enforcement agencies including the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police Department (EMPD) to address the recent spate of criminal incidents in and around the airport. These measures are part of the SAPS “integrated multi-disciplinary tactical response plan” and amongst others include:
- The appointment of a senior police official to head up the SAPS presence at the airport;
- The centralization of the airport security control room;
- The introduction of a vetting system for all personnel working at the airport;
- The rotation of SAPS personnel and allocation of additional police resources;
- The allocation of additional EMPD police officers to patrol roads leading up to and coming out of ORTIA;
- The possibility on setting up an ‘airport court’ to deal with aviation-related security offences, and
- The installation of additional CCTV cameras at strategic points around the airport.
The TBCSA in its capacity as the apex business organization in the travel and tourism sector is pleased with the latest measures announced by the Minister, in that this SAPS plan addresses many of the industry’s concerns. In expressing the response from the TBCSA, CEO Ms. Mmatšatši Ramawela said “We welcome the latest interventions announced by the National Police Minister to bring about a sense of safety and security in and around this national key point and major point of entry for visitors to South Africa and its neighbouring countries. As Minister Mbalula indicated, ORTIA plays a significant role in our economy, more especially from a travel and tourism point of view. Therefore, it is critical for the leadership of the country to not only safeguard its security but broadly speaking its status as a regional transport and tourism hub”.
The Council further applauds plans to involve the EMPD to patrol various routes leading up to the airport, the installation of CCTV cameras, as well as future plans to expand the implementation of these measures to other ports of entry. “South Africa has always had a good reputation for being friendly, warm and welcoming. However, recent issues of airport follow-home robberies, projected through the media, have put a damper on this reputation” says Ramawela.
Research insights from South African Tourism’s annual brand tracking studies show that the number one reason why potential visitors to South Africa don’t convert their awareness, interest and desire into visiting South Africa is a concern for personal safety.
Ramawela further said the aim of addressing safety and security issues at ORTIA and the rest of the country extend far beyond the interest of local and international tourists. “We must remember that this is not only an issue of ensuring tourist safety and security but also about ensuring our own safety and security as citizens. These interventions should be seen through a broader lens, as an effort to make South Africa ‘liveable’ for our own people and thus improving our prospects of being ‘visitable’.
On the matter of allegations of corruption involving tourism officials and hospitality role-players, the Council believes the law must take its course. From an industry perspective, the TBCSA continues to be actively involved in engaging different stakeholders on matters of tourist safety and security through its Tourism Safety Initiative (Tsi).
“Our success in addressing safety and security issues as a country would be both a symbolic and a practical demonstration that the rule of law, order and mutual respect is desirable and achievable. As the Tourism Business Council, we will continue supporting the SAPS and working with all other relevant role-players to ensure our destination is seen as both liveable and visitable”, Ramawela concludes. Ends.