Dr. Seshi Chonco: “”Is South Africa a place you would want to travel to? No, I don’t think so”


The government has not done enough to curb xenophobia, Tourism Kwazulu-Natal (TKZN) chairperson Dr Seshi Chonco said on Tuesday.

He was speaking at Durban’s Suncoast Casino on the impact of xenophobia on tourism in South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal.

Chonco said his opinion that government had not been doing enough was based on his experiences and his discussions with communities.

He said promises made by some people in the presidency had not been met and that communities were angry.

“People have invested in political leadership and are trying to change their lives … I don’t believe that government has done enough.”

He said that when vulnerable people were ravaged by poverty and disappointment, they took their frustrations out on fellow Africans due to competition for employment.

“We must get our house in order and create more jobs and opportunities.”

Chonco said it was good that SA had an open immigration policy but stressed that it was not enough.

He emphasised that government needed to rethink “our social economic order”.

“We have not delivered to the social economic environment and we need to create better civic organisations and a better social integration process.”

Ndabo Khoza, Chief Executive officer of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN) said since the start of the xenophobic attacks, there had been some cancellations of township tours but not the entire tours themselves.

He said the xenophobic attacks were worrying to the tourism industry because they could effect negatively on South Africa in the long term, if they was not addressed.

“These xenophobia attacks are a major setback to tourism in SA and KwaZulu-Natal because African tourism is critical to our country.”

Africa, he said, was South Africa’s most important source of foreign visitors and foreign visitor expenditure.

Africans were among the top five foreign visitor spenders in SA with Mozambicans topping the expenditure list in 2006.

In that year, 67 percent of international visitors were from within the continent – 114 380 were from Botswana, 248,828 were from Lesotho, 64&nbs;212 were from Mozambique, 327 168 were from Swaziland and 127 474 were from Zimbabwe.

Khoza said in 2010 they expected 25 000 visitors to be “long-haul” tourists while the remainder would come from Africa.

“It is important that we create an understanding that tourists do not only come from Europe and America. They come from all parts of the world.”

He said since the Xenophobic attacks began, South Africa had been perceived as an unsafe destination.

Chonco said safety, security and hospitality were key elements that brought tourists to South Africa.

“Now with xenophobia, is South Africa a place you would want to travel to? No, I don’t think so,” he said.