City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for economic opportunities and asset management James Vos has welcomed the swift action taken by the South African Police Service (SAPS) and Cape Town Tourism after a gang of armed men robbed a group of tourists in Khayelitsha in Cape Town on Friday.
“While the City of Cape Town and Cape Town Tourism play a supportive role in ensuring visitor safety and comfort across the city, the responsibility of policing is primarily that of the South African Police Service as the lead agency,” he said in a statement on Saturday.
In support of this and in partnership with the department of tourism and Cape Town Tourism respectively, the city had deployed additional tourism safety monitors and TravelWise ambassadors to tourist hotspots across the city. It was hoped that these measures would enhance the visitor experience and improve the safety of tourists, he said.
“I am pleased to see the swift response and steps taken by our tourism agency, Cape Town Tourism, and the SAPS, because destinations are also known for the way they respond to incidents by making care and comfort essential to our tourism value proposition,” Vos said.
Earlier on Saturday, SAPS Western Cape spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa said police were searching for the gang and the SAPS 72-hour activation plan had been ordered in an effort to arrest those responsible.
The group of 11 tourists had been visiting a Khayelitsha gardening project in Site C when they were threatened and robbed of cameras, cellphones, and wallets.
“The tourists were in the area with a 26-year-old local tourist guide when five armed men made their way into the premises of a school where they were. The suspects, wearing reflector jackets, ordered the group into a vehicle and robbed them. No one sustained injury during the incident.”
Khayelitsha detectives later visited the group at their hotel and took statements. Counselling services were offered, Potelwa said.
Cape Town Tourism CEO Enver Duminy said safety, security, and crime presented a serious challenge when it came to tourism.
“When every 12 tourists translates into one new job, we should be fighting to retain every single visitor. We are shocked and concerned about this weekend’s incident in Khayelitsha.
“We have activated our Band-Aid programme which forms part of Cape Town Tourism’s year-round safety and security initiatives. With assistance from our partners in the tourism industry, the affected visitors will be receiving the remedial support they need following what surely must have been a very traumatic experience,” he said.
Even though the year-on-year growth from the United States was positive according to ForwardKeys travel data for the coming months, this incident may have negative consequences on this forecasted growth, Duminy said.