Google Maps has updated its travel routes to exclude unsafe areas in Nyanga as part of a broader initiative to improve tourist safety in South Africa.
Nyanga travel routes revised on Google Maps to improve tourist safety
In response to rising attacks on tourists opting for ‘quicker’ routes from the direct route from the Cape Town International Airport to the city centre and surrounds, the Tourism Department recently entered into a wide-spanning agreement with Google, which also includes revising Google Maps to prevent directing tourists through unsafe areas in Nyanga.
In August 2023, during the height of the deadly Cape Town taxi strike, British doctor Kar Hao Teoh, following an alternative route suggested by Google Maps from the airport, unknowingly made a turn into Nyanga and was brutally murdered in front of his wife and son.
More recently, an American tourist was ambushed at an ATM in the same area after following suggestions from the navigation app.
The Department of Tourism, in collaboration with various stakeholders, has developed the National Tourism Safety Strategy, which focuses on enhancing public-private partnerships to address tourism safety issues more effectively.
Speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday, Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille revealed that the primary goal is to offer a better visitor experience and change the perception of South Africa as a destination marred by safety concerns.
In a bid to advance safety and security measures, the department and SAPS signed a memorandum of understanding to work together in combating crimes that affect tourists.
De Lille revealed that SAPS is also developing a coding system to better capture and analyse real-time data on tourist-related crimes
There have been challenges with tourists not reporting crimes due to their short stays and the lengthy judicial process, which discourages their participation in investigations.
“Again, let me assure you that South Africa is open for business and leisure. We are ready to welcome tourists from all over the world in order to grow our economy and stimulate job creation in this important sector,” the minister said.