Determining Sasolburg residents' perceptions of tourist safety and security in South Africa
Ramoliki, M. J.
The birth of new governance in South Africa in 1994 positioned the country worldwide as a tourism destination with large numbers of tourists visiting South African shores. It is, however, not only international visitors that frequent the tourism products; the local residents also started to travel more with almost 50% of the population that participated in travel-related activities. At the same time South Africa gained a reputation of being an unsafe place to visit, which influenced the tourism growth percentage negatively. It was then realised that the notion of being an unsafe place to go on holiday to would impact negatively on a host country such as South Africa. Perceptions of safety and security in South Africa have been measured, but only for international visitors. Even though the domestic market should be the backbone of the tourism industry their perceptions regarding the safety of South Africa as a tourism destination has not been analysed. This could, however, be a factor inhibiting them from travelling locally. The purpose of this study is to determine the perceptions of residents of Sasolburg regarding tourists’ safety and security in South Africa, to obtain insight into the current perspectives of residents and advise on strategies regarding the improvement of these perceptions. Questionnaires were distributed to residents of Sasolburg and a total of 380 questionnaires were suitable for analyses. The questionnaire was divided into three sections, namely demographic information, travel preferences and perceptions of crime. The data resulting from the questionnaires was captured and analysed by means of descriptive analyses in SPSS. Descriptive statistics were used focusing on the graphical display of frequency tables and figures providing information on the demographic profile and travel behaviour of the respondents. Factor analyses were used to identify specific safety experience factors as well as specific travel motivation factors. Spearman Rank order correlations were used to determine the factors influencing safety experience factors with reference to age, frequency of holidaying, average duration of the holiday, number of weekend trips and travel motivations. An independent t-test was conducted to explore the influence of gender, being a previous victim of crime and marital status on respondents’ assessment of safety experience factors and travel motivation factors. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted to explore the effect of home language and occupation on the safety experience factors and travel motivation factors of Sasolburg residents. From the analyses it became clear that the respondents go on holiday once a year but do tend to go on more weekend trips per year. They travel mostly by car and stay with relatives, in hotels and guesthouses. Respondents were most concerned about crime whilst travelling and their biggest concerns were theft, robbery and rape. In everyday life respondents were more concerned about crime than when travelling. Respondents indicated that higher and more intense levels of policing would make South Africa a safer tourism destination. Regarding respondents’ previous holiday, it was found that they had felt safe when dining out, staying at their accommodation establishments and whilst driving during the day. Respondents did feel unsafe at night. The factor analysis on the safety experiences of respondents revealed three factors, namely day-time activities, night-time experiences and infrastructure with night-time activities considered to be the most unsafe activities. The factor analysis on travel motivations revealed the following factors, namely exploration, learning, social group activities and relaxation. The latter was identified as the most important travel motivator for the respondents. The factors that influence residents’ perceptions of crime included age, length of stay, number of weekend trips, previously being a victim of crime, marital status and occupation. The high correlations between the three safety experience factors revealed that if residents felt unsafe during the day they will probably also feel unsafe at night or while using infrastructure. The study contributes to the existing body of knowledge of understanding the influence of perceptions of safety and security on the tourism industry in South Africa. In the light of the findings, it is therefore recommended that the tourism industry, law enforcement agencies and other tourism stakeholders co-ordinate efforts to improve crime prevention measures in South Africa. Travelling of local residents is as important as international visitors to South Africa and it is thus important to create a safe environment to travel.
M. Tech. (Tourism and Hospitality Management, Faculty of Human Sciences) : Vaal University of Technology,
South African tourism, Tourism in South Africa, Tourist safety