Monday, 17 February 2014

But is it safe?

This has to be the most frequently asked question, when talking about visiting Africa. 

A client who had booked a massive Africa safari, travelling with his young family, asked me this question, almost as an after-thought, as the departure date drew closer.  I think he started to feel nervous and was looking for reassurance.

This is what I told him:

It is a sensible question - and the issues that make people nervous about travelling to South Africa are very complex.  I would like to start by reassuring you that in the 15 years I have been in the travel industry, we have hosted thousands and thousands of passengers.  In all that time, and with all those people I can count on one hand the number of people who have been victims of petty theft and, at worst, a mugging.

The legacy of apartheid is that there is a lot of poverty in South Africa - and a big population of semi-skilled and somewhat illiterate people.  It means that crime is an issue - and, in South Africa security is an expensive business.  The value of your house is determined by where it is (is the area safe - if yes, it is worth a LOT more than in a less secure area), and also by the security features it boasts.  South Africans are naturally vigilant - when you get in your car you lock your door without giving it a second thought!  All the houses have fences, burglar bars and electric fences.

When we started up our Inbound business we decided that we wanted to be in charge of where our passengers travelled right from the moment they arrive into the country, up until they leave.  It is the reason why we have such a huge Client Service and vehicle infra-structure.  Wherever you travel with us, our own people will be transporting you (in the Transport division of our business - Hylton Ross) - into the Region and within Southern Africa. 

The main reason is this - you don't want to get lost in Africa.  (if you did, chances are excellent that you would find the locals helpful, charming and very kind - but you don't want to run the risk of bumping into a bad element).  Travelling on the traditional tourist routes, you will be completely safe. 

You will find the South Africans very friendly - and, if for some reason you bump into anyone, looking a bit indifferent, or grumpy, give them a big smile and say How are You - and you will get an absolutely beaming smile in reply!

It is an idiosyncrasy of our African people - they say How are You before they introduce themselves -  and it is considered rather infra-dig if you ask them a question or for service before you greet them - so, the trick is to say, Hello, how are you?  Wait for the response, and then say, we would like to check in or whatever.

You will have a fantastic time in Africa - and you will be completely safe.


Until Next time
Elizabeth
 

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