THE RECENT spate of tourists’ attacks could be a thing of the past, following the introduction of the Tourism Monitors Programme, this week by the national department of Tourism.
In conjunction with Gauteng Tourism and other stakeholders, the programme targets youth aged 18 to 35 from five provincial regions, whose task is to enhance knowledge in areas such as information and tour guide training to customer services and safety awareness training.
It was unveiled in Soweto- Vilakazi Precint- on Tuesday by Tourism Minister Thokozile Xasa, who pointed out that 200 safety monitors will take up their posts at Gauteng’s tourist hot spots‚ including Soweto and OR Tambo International Airport.
They will also form part of more than 2‚000 monitors who will be stationed around the country’s tourist attractions going forward.
The Tourism Monitors Programme‚ its first phase of training will be held in Johannesburg‚ Tshwane‚ Sedibeng‚ Ekurhuleni and the West Rand.
It is expected to go on for the next three years‚ with the intention of targeting other provinces in the long run.
“We want to create a new cadre out of you‚ because coming from your households‚ you will be preaching the very same awareness we are talking about – and also sharing the skills that you will be exposed to as part of the programme‚”said the Minister, who previously was the deputy.
Each participant will receive a R3‚600 per month stipend and a uniform‚ in line with the EPWP.
It made sense to launch the programme in the Gauteng region, following a string of tourists’ attacks that questioned the readiness of security and safety in the province.
In vote of confidence, the chief executive of GTA Siphiwe Ngwenya said monitors would undergo security vetting by the police and other security agencies, since the programme would benefit both domestic and international tourists.
The recruitment process commenced in June this year – for youth with no criminal record who have a matric and the ability to communicate well.
They must also be able to speak English and two African languages.
“We were looking for youth with clean records‚ because wouldn’t want to unleash people with criminal records on tourists‚” says Victor Tharage, director general from department of Tourism.
“They are the custodians of this process in terms of vetting‚ so they will guide us on that and liaise with us.
The training will be provided by independent service providers – except the safety awareness‚ which will be done by the [Gauteng] Department of Community Safety‚ is part of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP),” says Tharage.
Sowetans who came to witness the event, also reiterated that safety is paramount and if unattended to, could have dire strains to tourism, following the installment of cameras in the Vilakazi Precinct.