Measures in place to ensure the safety of tourists

Measures in place to ensure the safety of tourists. Photographer: Armand Hough. African News Agency (ANA)

Measures in place to ensure the safety of tourists. Photographer: Armand Hough. African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 15, 2023


An immediate plan to stop attacks on tourist buses in the North West province was unveiled during a briefing at Sun City this week. It follows recent reports of three separate incidents in which buses, transporting international tourists to various destinations, came under attack from hijackers. Acting HOD for Dedect North West, Lebo Diale said with the the peak tourist season already under way, they had to move quickly.

“We met with key local and national stakeholders from tourism bodies, SAPS, private security entities, tourism operators and our local communities for an urgent think tank. We have deployed 35 vehicles along the N4, the R556 and other significant provincial routes. These vehicles will provide an escort to tour buses as well as maintaining a security presence on these routes,” she said.

Large-scale tour operators, especially those transporting international tourists, will in future be asked to use the N4 as the main point of entry. From there they will be escorted to their destination. The security vehicles began last week and are supported by a dedicated data collection agency that can feed information to SAPS about the movement of tourist buses.

The tourism industry was represented at the briefing by Sun City’s General Manager Brett Hoppe who explained that Sun City has employed four tourism hospitality students to operate a special data collection hub located at the resort. The students will collate information received from local and national tour operators regarding the movement of buses, especially those carrying international tourists.

A centralised email address and WhatsApp number has been set up to receive the information, which is shared with SAPS and other relevant parties to assist them with their intelligence effort. The data collection agency will send daily reports to SAPS and will also interface with the national tourism safety initiative.

Diale said it was critical for government, law enforcement and the private sector to join hands.

“As government, we lacked the resources to solve the problem on our own, but we had the know-how and connections to assist the private sector. By forming a partnership and working together as a team we could put plans into practice very quickly. We are focusing on all routes into the province, but especially the N4 and the R556 routes which lead to various game parks and resorts. This high level of organised crime is not common in our province so we have reason to believe that criminals operating out of Gauteng are following the buses into the North West, believing that they can act with impunity here. But we will not stand for this happening in our province.,”she added.

Sun City’s CEO Brett Hoppe said they are one of many affected stakeholders in the Bojanala region, which rely on tourism.

“We had to act expeditiously and I think the MECs office and the HOD and the Chief Director have given this matter absolute priority. The provincial commissioner from SAPS has been integrally involved in the plan and subscribed to the various initiatives. “Some of the initiatives that we and SAPS are executing are confidential at this point in time, but believe me, they have taken the challenge seriously and I’m really pleased to say that Sun City is entering the season with a great sense of comfort. We’re looking forward to a fantastic season in the region. Our occupancies are extremely buoyant at this point in time, and to the HOD’s point, buoyant tourism means job creation and that’s why we are all striving to insure that our province is safe to visit,”he said.

Hoppe concluded that the prompt response from the MECs office, the HOD, the Chief Director, the provincial SAPS commander and also various private security entities and tourism industry proves what a public and private partnership can do.

Saturday Star