Travel risk surveys downbeat on Africa

December 16, 2015, 4:38am

Smoke rises from a burning vehicle during xenophobic attacks in Durban. A global survey cites violence as a damper on tourism in SA. 
SA tourism hit by negative perceptions, joins medium-risk states Zimbabwe, Russia, Sudan, Brazil and Tunisia. Picture: EPA/KIM LUDBROOK 

By Nivashni Nair, Business Day Live

HOLIDAYING in SA is more risky than in the US or France.

This is according to the Travel Risks Map 2016, which has declared SA a "medium risk" holiday spot where "periodic political unrest, violent protests, insurgency and/or sporadic acts of terrorism occur".

In medium-risk countries, travellers "may face risk from communal, sectarian or racial violence and violent crime. Capacity of security and emergency services and infrastructure varies. Industrial action can disrupt travel.’’

Zimbabwe, Russia, Sudan, Brazil and Tunisia have also been declared medium-risk countries while the US and France are both viewed as low risk.

In another global travel survey released last week, more than half of the 2,000 active travellers said they avoided Africa due to increasing fears of personal safety, terrorism and disease.

The study, undertaken by the Chief Marketing Choices Council’s GeoBranding Centre and AIG Travel, found that despite favourable exchange rates and few incidents involving foreign tourists, perceptions of conflict and Ebola have been driving the decline of long-haul visitors to Africa.

Tourism Business Council of SA CEO Mmatsatsi Ramawela said SA’s reputation from a traveller safety and security point of view had been significantly affected by negative perceptions, "although the reality always differs".

"One of the lessons learnt from the Ebola outbreak is that there is still a lot of ignorance and/or a lot of people who are uninformed about the African continent…

"Thus a lot of work is still needed to raise the level of awareness about the continent."

"We believe this will go a long way in changing perceptions about safety in our part of the world and in providing the required levels of reassurance," Ms Ramawela said.