When planning a trip these days it’s only natural when looking for that perfect location for your holiday or honeymoon to consider safety and the risk of crime, especially if it’s a country that you have never been to before or do not know much about.
The saying no news is good news’ is very reasonable when you consider that the media has a big part to play in our perception of the risk of travelling. South Africa is a country often featured in the news with various statistics quoted making it sound somewhat different to the reality many people find when they get there.
In June 2010 South Africa successfully hosted the Football World Cup. Previous negative perceptions regarding the crime in the country were dismantled and surveys conducted in the country during the event showed that 70% of tourists felt safe in South Africa, while 26.4% believed they were very safe. Only 3.8% felt they were somewhat unsafe. Nine out of ten foreigners visiting South Africa for the purposes of the World Cup say that they would recommend South Africa to friends or family as a holiday destination, according to African Response’s World Cup Visitor Survey.
If you visit the website of the British & Foreign Commonwealth Office there are no restrictions on travel to South Africa. It states that 479,192 British Nationals visited South Africa in 2009 and most visits were trouble free. It also states that there is a high level of crime but that most violent crimes often occur in townships or isolated areas away from tourist spots. Interestingly if you visit the travel advice page for the United States or India
for example it offers similar advice on safety and security against crime as it does for South Africa. Also interesting is a report released by the FCO at the beginning of 2010 which indicated that British tourists are statistically safer visiting South Africa than they are visiting Spain or Germany.
Everyone knows there are muggings and worse happen in New York or Rio de Janeiro but it doesn’t stop tourists visiting these cities. Why are we more fearful about South Africa? Is it because we don’t know as much about it? The overall risk to tourists from violent crime is low, despite the figures featured in the media about the country as a whole. It is vital to take all statistics in context so that you can make informed decisions about travel to the beautiful country of South Africa. Always bear in mind just how successfully the country hosted millions of international tourists without major incident during the World Cup.
Good advice for travel safety anywhere in the world is don’t do anything you would not do in any other big city of this world, or at home. Just as certain areas of New York, London or Rome would be ‘no go’ areas for tourists so are the township areas or certain city centre hot spots of South Africa.
The best advice we can offer is to listen to the locals. South Africans are on the whole friendly and accommodating people who are happy to assist. Avoid carrying around large amounts of cash: as in any foreign country, there are criminals who can spot a tourist and will be looking for opportunities. Also keep expensive items such as video cameras and laptops concealed when you are in areas where there are many people or areas that are unfamiliar to you.
Essentially just follow the rules, use your common sense, but don’t be paranoid.
We have been organising holidays to South Africa for 7 years and have sent thousands of tourists to South Africa. There has never, in all of that time been any major incidents to report. Our clients have returned safely with glowing reports about the beauty of the country, the friendliness of the people and the cultural diversity.
We regularly travel to South Africa ourselves and we have family and friends living in South Africa. If you are unsure about things we are the experts. Your safety and your enjoyment is our priority. We hope that, if you haven’t already you will soon enjoy a trip to one of the most interesting and beautiful places on this planet.