MPTA confirms that the attacking of tourists is increasing
Loss of tourism income will lead to loss of job opportunities
Masoka Dube and Tumelo waga Dibakwane
ATTACKING international tourists visiting Mpumalanga will scare away tourists and destroy the tourism industry in the province. So says Linda Grimbeeck, Chief Operating Officer for the Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism (KLCBT).
Grimbeeck commented after a recent incident whereby British star Katie Price, her family and her TV crew were attacked and robbed of their belongings around Chrissiesmeer outside Ermelo. The tourists were reportedly attacked while they were on their way to Swaziland. According to the police, the celebrity and her team were attacked after stopping at a turn-off towards Lothair.
“Any crime committed against tourists is posing a serious threat as it sends a negative message to the international community. We are calling on all law enforcement agencies to make sure the tourists are safe in the country,” said Grimbeeck.
Grimbeek however commended law enforcement agencies for quelling service delivery protests which were prevalent in Mpumalanga just before the start of the Eastern weekend. “I am very happy with the way local government and the police dealt with the protests that were threatening to damage our tourism industry. In fact, the protests were considered dangerous with some of the Kruger National Park gates blockaded and visitors forced to use alternative gates,” said Grimbeeck.
Meanwhile, The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) has also confirmed the attacked and condemned it in the strongest possible terms. According to the MTPA the province has seen an increase in attacks on tourists, especially over Easter. “There has been an increase in the number of incidents recorded lately of tourists being hijacked and robbed of their valuables while visiting various parts of the province. “We are concerned about these attacks as they impact negatively on tourism in the province. Such incidents impact negatively on the country as a whole,” said Johannes Nobunga CEO of MTPA.
Nobunga said they were working hard to promote Mpumalanga as a safe destination where tourists can have the opportunity to explore the many iconic offerings of the province and have memorable experiences without being attacked or harmed in any way.
“We call upon the South African Police Services (SAPS), as well as various community policing forums to be vigilant and to work closely with members of the community in key crime hot spots in order to enable tourists to enjoy their stay in the province without fear of becoming victims of crime,” said Nobunga.
Police said no arrests were made concerning the Katie Price incident. The MTPA has been working with the local tourism industry stakeholders to provide the victims with the necessary aftercare support, said Nubunga.