Should you cancel your trip to and within South Africa?
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My phone blew up during the early days of the unrest and looting with people enquiring whether it was safe to travel to and within South Africa. At the time, I gave a firm “no”. Postpone your trip until everything gets settled, I told them.
As much as we needed to boost our tourism industry, the fuel shortage and unrest in many areas in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng made it hard to encourage any form of travel. Until now. With the country rebuilding after the devastating loss, the travel industry relies on local and international travellers to keep their businesses open.
Natalie Knibbs, the owner of Africa Memories Travel, said travellers should not stop travelling to and within South Africa due to fear.
"As SA returns to some sort of normality, we should venture out and allow ourselves to feel some sort of peace.
"If you do, check the safety of the roads if they are safe to drive. If there is any chance that they aren't, rather postpone to a later date. Opt for isolated destinations if you do and take the necessary Covid-19 protocols," she explained.
Knibbs said that the tourism industry could not sustain another major setback. The pandemic has caused many tourism businesses to close their doors due to a lack of travel demand and restrictions.
"Tourism is a massive drawcard for travellers. There are so many specials out there at the moment. The specials cover costs to keep doors open, to pay skeleton staff and to maintain their establishments. Don't stop travelling out of fear. Find out the facts and then go.
"For international travellers who are unsure, request a tour operator to accompany you. They know our roads and destinations intimately and have relationships and contacts to ensure that your trip is safe," she said.
Here are some travel tips for when visiting South Africa:
Be street smart
In South Africa, you need to act less like a tourist and more like a local. Criminals often prey on people who show signs of fear. When out and about, show that you are confident, put your shoulders and chest out and walk your bravest walk.
Plan routes in advance
Spontaneity is good once in a while. However, wandering off the beaten track to dangerous parts of a particular city where even locals dare not visit is careless. Instead, ask the hotel or your tour guide for a list of expeditions that you can do that would not compromise your safety.
Travel with groups
Travel with people. Even if criminals are lurking around, they probably won't attack a group.
Keep travel documents and extra money locked in the safe at your hotel
Keep important documents at your hotel in case you are a victim of crime, which would be highly unlikely if you take all the necessary precautions. Never wander alone, especially at night: Never go out without anyone. Even if you are on a solo trip, try to interact with locals and other travellers.
Do not entertain suspicious people
People may ask you for money and food. Do not entertain them if you feel they have ulterior motives.
Know the details of the local authorities
Know the local authorities number, including the police, so you can report incidents to them as it happens.
Keep luggage safe
Whether you are at the airport, at the hotel or grabbing a quick snack, always keep your luggage safe. Try to lock it and store the key somewhere safe and handy.