Brand reputation expert Tshepo Matseba says that the current cholera outbreak that has affected Gauteng and the Free State and claimed 17 lives, with scores treated in hospital, could negatively affect tourists’ perception of South Africa.
According to Statistics South Africa, international arrivals to South Africa for the first quarter of 2023 were an impressive 2.1 million, over 100 percent increase compared to the same period in 2022.
These figures are however still 21.5 percent lower than pre-pandemic levels.
Matseba says that to travellers, how an outbreak like this is handled, speaks to the country’s ability to react to important issues, and provide basic services to its communities.
“Cholera is a huge risk in terms of perceptions of South Africa that tourists may hold. The minute you start doing a death count from zero to 17, it becomes one too many and that is where, irrespective of the calibre of a traveller, the perception of an inability to handle a crisis quickly and to anticipate it quickly becomes an impediment to tourism and it creates an impression that we’re not in control.”