South Africa could attract double the 10 million tourists which currently visit the country every year if it wasn’t for crime and service delivery protests, according to a report in the City Press.
Tourism Business Council of SA CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa stated that crime was by the biggest worry for international travellers taking a trip to South Africa.
He said that if crime was not a factor, South Africa would see around double the number of tourists visiting yearly, adding that frequent service delivery protests are also a “nightmare” for tourists.
“Violence against tourists is equivalent to economic crimes such as stealing copper cables and gold, and something must be done,” Tshivhengwa said.
“As a country, we’ve got everything that any tourist would want to see and it’s quite important that they feel safe,” he said.
“We have, however, seen a recurrence of the same crimes against tourists in the past few months and this calls for us to look at tourism differently as it creates jobs.”
Tourists are regularly targeted by local criminals due to their lack of awareness around South Africa’s dangerous areas and the large amount of money which they carry with them.
It is not only crime and protests which are affecting the South African tourism industry, with the growing presence of international players becoming a concern for local hospitality industries.
Earlier this year, South African hotels argued that the adoption of Airbnb in South African tourist destinations was killing the local tourism industry, as it was taking business away from established businesses.
The hotels called for municipalities to regulate Airbnb, stating that the platform was undercutting local players and hurting tourism income in the country.
“The tourism industry, which pays taxes in the city is not happy. They are saying the Airbnbs – which is not regulated and can afford to undercut prices since they do not have overheads – are killing the industry,” said Nelson Mandel Bay metro economic development executive director Anele Qaba.
This was followed by the Ministry of Tourism requesting that Airbnb limit the number of nights landlords make their homes available in South Africa, ensuring that landlords do not exceed national limits in terms of how many nights they rent to guests.