Members from several countries on the African Tourism Board WhatsApp discussion group have urged the organization to take a stand on the unfolding xenophobic crises in South Africa.
African Tourism Board, Chairman, Cuthbert Ncube agreed not to be quiet and reacted from the ATB headquarters in Pretoria, by condemning the crises in strong terms. “We strongly condemn these barbaric acts by Africans to another fellow African,” he said.
In the official statement released by the COO of the organisation, Simba Mandinyen, who is currently on ATB business in London, the organisation declared, “With great concern, the African Tourism Board takes note of the violence that started in areas in and around Johannesburg and Pretoria, South Africa over the last 72 hours. ATB feels such violence of Africans against Africans is counterproductive to the image of not just South Africa but the continent at large.” The African Tourism Board called upon the authorities to move in and stop the violence which has led to the killing of people and destruction of property. Many tourists traveling through the country have been caught in the cross-fire and many are holed up in their hotels.
ATB expressed the hope that authorities will take necessary action to bring calm and normalcy and that the public and tourists will be able to go about their businesses safely. The ATB believes that the situation obtaining in South Africa is no longer a problem of South Africa alone but a regional and continental socio-economic challenge that requires the support and efforts of relevant regional and continental social, economic and political agencies to solve.
The board pledged its continuous support to all arms of the government of South Africa working to resolve the violent situation as soon as possible. Furthermore, the ATB called upon all the people in the affected areas to work with and support the relevant authorities that are on the ground and dealing with the situation.
Earlier, one member asked: “How do we build an image for tourism with this violence? I think condemning this is in line with the objectives of ATB to promote Africa as a tourism destination. How can one treat foreigners as such?” Another member responded: “Very true, how can tourism thrive in such a hostile environment, it negates everything that hospitality stands for and I am so disheartened how our black brothers and sisters in South Africa are reinforcing stereotypes that we are fighting hard to eliminate. This is truly sad, this is a failure by all standards. If there is a problem with immigrants their immigration agency should deport people not letting their citizens degenerate to these level of savagery and violence.”
Johannesburg, Capetown, and Pretoria are turning into a bloody and deadly battlefield of violent protests and looting. Tourists are caught in the crossfire taking cover in hotels, and widespread looting and fires are closing down entire neighbourhoods. Police are arresting dozens of protesters and shots are being fired. A rampage against foreigners living in South Africa has been developing and growing into a major crises. It all began when a suspected Nigerian drug dealer shot a South African taxi driver on Tuesday. After this, violence against foreigners has been spreading across to the urban centres across South Africa. Angry taxi drivers littered the streets with an array of objects. The atmosphere is tense and volatile.
Since then, South Africa has been hit by an outbreak of xenophobic violence in its biggest city, attracting criticism from other African nations while political and business leaders from at least 28 countries are to gather in Cape Town for the World Economic Forum.