• JB TJIVIKUA
TOURISM contributed approximately 14.9% of Namibia’s GDP and 15.4% of total employment in 2019, according to estimates by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) .
More than one million travelers visit Namibia annually.
Worryingly, many tourist destinations are experiencing an increase in crime with some becoming hotspots or crimogenic locations.
This underlines the need to embark on crime prevention strategies.
Traditionally, evaluations of crime prevention campaigns focus on the extent to which crime is reduced or the increased performance of targeted behaviour.
Given the economic importance of tourism, combined with the need to tackle crime and disorder while protecting the image as safe destinations, it is imperative to implement firm crime prevention campaigns.
Such initiatives attempt to reduce crime, deter criminals and provide advice and guidelines on safety for residents and tourists alike.
We need to lessons the chances of both Namibians and tourists becoming victims of crime.
Crime incidents at tourist destinations can be extremely damaging, as safety and security are two essential pre-requisites for a thriving tourism industry.
Essentially, a crime prevention campaign is largely social and situational in nature and focuses on enhancing security and target hardening so that opportunistic crimes are less ‘attractive’.
It attempts to prevent potential offenders from turning to, or committing crime, and also focuses on enhancing community safety.
It therefore hones in on residents and tourists alike, and involves providing knowledge with the intention of encouraging behavioral change which less exposure to risk and the livelihood of victimisation.
Another approach is distributing safety and security pamphlets and displaying visual notices aimed at reducing thefts and burglary at tourist establishments, as well as camping and caravan sites identified as particularly vulnerable to crime.
As such, success is not only contingent on the effectiveness of the measures adopted, but on whether the right measures are implemented adequately to address particular problems.
Thus, the authorities should undertake both short- and long-term actions and strategies to reduce crime and violence aimed at tourists in collaboration with relevant organizations such as the national police.
Also, providing timely and adequate information to tourists and visitors alike will help improve their safety and security.
Most importantly, authorities must ensure that adequate resources are devoted to providing security for tourists, and to monitoring the effectiveness of safety and security measures.
The management and policing of tourist destinations may be substantially improved by carefully designed crime prevention messages.
Tourists especially need to be exposed to information that will influence their decision-making.
However, it is not enough to just increase awareness of crime prevention at destinations.
Tourists’ attitudes and behavior in general need to be tackled.
It is important that they have a greater appreciation and understanding of their surroundings and any associated risks.
They need to realize the consequences of their actions so that they behave in ways that reduce their risk of becoming victims of crime.
Common-sense strategies are, for the most part, the same everywhere, but the following should be stressed:
Safety and security are vital for tourism development.
One of the most common threats to the safety of tourists comes from criminal activity.
In addition, cybersecurity is vital. The tourism industry runs on computers and using the internet and most tourist destinations are woefully underprepared for such an attack, should it occur.
Another issue is the security infrastructure and apparatus. Most police departments do not have dedicated officers exclusively for tourism security.
In addition, natural disasters such as epidemics, pandemics and civil strife inevitably compromise tourism security as well.
In response to these threats, mitigating measures are key to offsetting the potentially adverse effects.
Namibia’s tourism is one of the most successful and productive sectors of our economy. Let’s guard it.
* Major general JB Tjivikua served in the Namibian Police for 27 years