While the increased rate of follow-home airport crime is being widely reported, it there may be a bigger trend at play, says TourismUpdate.co.za. The specialist tourism website for Southern Africa and beyond says several criminal incidents are occurring at key tourist sites in and around Gauteng.
In Europe a ‘tourist trap’ is a place where tourists pay inflated prices to see or enjoy average sites and/or entertainment. In South Africa it is something completely different – to be liberated of your personal belongings while enjoying a tourist site.
Tourism Update quotes Lead Tourist Guide of JMT Tours, Joe Motsogi, who says there is a worrying spike in thefts at tourist attractions, including Constitution Hill, Maropeng, Walter Sisulu Square, Vilakazi Street, Maboneng, Gold Reef City and the Hector Pieterson Memorial – and that’s just the short list.
He reported a recent incident where one of his groups, comprising Brazilian tourists, lost valuables including passports and credit cards when their tour vehicle was broken into while parked outside the Apartheid Museum on June 30. Motsogi says the car was parked within 20 metres of the entrance and within the security details’ sights, but despite this, the passenger window of the vehicle had been smashed and the tourists’ belongings stolen.
“On discovering the smash-and-grab, we did the required by contacting the police and reporting the case. Because of the administration that came with the reporting of the case, our guests were delayed for the flight they were meant to catch that day. Security at the Apartheid Museum did not help either as they took about 30 minutes to respond, while police took two hours to come through,” he says.
“What is worse is that there is no patrolling security within the museum precinct,” says Motsogi, who points out that there was an accumulation of litter, blaring music and public alcohol consumption in the vicinity, creating a negative impression on tourists visiting the area.
Motsogi is concerned that this is start of a bigger trend and suspects that his group may have been followed. “There is also speculation that hotel employees may be involved in colluding with criminals.” He says there needs to be an entity dedicated to emergency issues affecting tourists. “There should be one central body to go to when such incidents happen. Can all tourism stakeholders come together and save our industry?”