The tourism industry has welcomed the enhanced security measures implemented at OR Tambo International Airport (Ortia) but it has raised concerns that the recent warning issued by the US Consul General advising US citizens to exercise caution when travelling from the airport will have an impact on tourism.
Barba Gaoganediwe, Spokesperson at the Gauteng Tourism Authority, says it is unfortunate the US Consul General issued the advisory, despite the prompt response from authorities to deploy new safety measures to address tourists’ concerns. “In the two weeks since these new security enhancements were introduced, authorities have made tremendous breakthroughs in rooting out the issues at the airport – which is evident in the number of arrests that have been made since the new task force was established.”
Gaoganediwe told Tourism Update the Gauteng Tourism Authority in partnership with the National Department of Tourism as well as the five municipalities in Gauteng would roll out a tourism safety awareness programme later this month to educate tourists and service providers located in and around tourism sites about safety measures and other initiatives that were planned for tourists in the region. “With this, as well as the enhanced security measures at the airport, we are confident Gauteng – and OR Tambo as the gateway into Africa – will continue to be the preferred destination for tourists,” Gaoganediwe says.
This follows the recent suspension of 34 information desk clerks, eight Gauteng tourism officials and seven police officers, in an attempt to ‘clean-up’ one of Africa’s leading airports.
CEO of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (Satsa), David Frost, said he commended the Minister of Police and the action taken by the government regarding the matter. He applauded the serious action taken to implement the new security measures at Ortia.
Frost said he believed Ortia should implement restrictions for visitors, limiting access for those who have no business in the airport, and that there should be a parameter level for visitors, as demonstrated in India’s airports.
In 2016, India announced that visitors accompanying passengers would not be allowed airport access beyond the car park areas.