In recent months, South Africa has garnered a bad reputation among tourists due to the escalating crime rate, leaving visitors feeling unsafe.
Countries with the most tourists visiting Cape Town include the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States, respectively. Of the top three countries listed, two have issued warnings on their official websites to their citizens about the dangers of holidaying here. The recent kidnapping of Cape Town based couple Rob and Rachel Saunders has been highlighted by the UK government, as well as the spate of attacks on hikers on trails in the Mother City.
In the Unites States, there is a page warning of the severe water crisis crippling the city. And the Australian travel advisory warns of SA’s high HIV/Aids rate – and advises to “exercise precaution with activities exposing you to risk of infection”.
This is what the warnings on their official travel advisory pages look like…
The United Kingdom
According to the warning, South Africa has a very high level of crime, including rape and murder. However, the risk of violent crime against travelers is generally low. “The South African authorities give high priority to protecting tourists and tourism police are deployed in several large towns,” the warning read.
There has been an increased threat of kidnappings throughout South Africa. The case of Rob and Rachel Saunders illustrates just why this warning has been issued. The Saunders couple was kidnapped on 12 February 2018 by suspected ISIS members in the Bivane Dam area of Vryheid in KwaZulu-Natal.
British nationals are perceived as being wealthier than locals and are at particular risk of being kidnapped for financial gain.
The British government has a long-standing policy not to make substantial concessions to hostage takers. “The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage-taking,” the safety and security warning on the site reads.
Levels of crime are particularly high in the Berea and Hillbrow districts of Johannesburg, as well as Durban’s city centre and beach front.
Cape Town has also been pegged as dangerous to hikers following the recent spate of attacks on tourists and hikers on Table Mountain’s hiking trails. More advice is available on the South African Nationals Parks website.
The United States
The government of the United States has a special page of alerts on the travel safety section of its official website. As incidents of crime like protests and murders occur, it is immediately posted on an alerts page. These highlights serve as a warning of crime in South Africa.
The main page, however, is very concise and not as detailed as the page of the UK government.
A section has also been set aside to inform its citizens of Cape Town and the Western Cape specifically. This section gives special attention to the ongoing water crisis, and also includes links to important websites within the Western Cape, such as a link to the City of Cape Town’s official site.
Australia has cautioned its citizens on the dangers of travel in South Africa, rating the country as “High degree of caution”.
Their travel advisory page urges citizens to beware of the high levels of crime, and to pay close attention to media and other sources of information about possible security risks.
A warning of terrorism was also issued, stating that the attacks are indiscriminate and includes places often visited by foreigners. There is also a warning of the high rate ofHIV/Aids in South Africa.
“The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in South Africa is very high. Exercise precautions with activities exposing you to risk of infection. Victims of violent crime, including rape, should seek immediate medical assistance,” the warning reads.