Xenophobic attack: Travel agents, tour operators in West Africa cancel travel deals to S/Africa

Following the xenophobic attacks on foreigners, predominantly Nigeria, in South Africa, WALE OLAPADE brings the backlash on travel and tourism as they particularly affect South Africa.

 

Xenophobia, a racial intolerance syndrome that has become an age long socio-economic problem associated with South Africans, has continued to attract global attention with many condemning the unprecedented degree of inhuman brutality and destruction of properties and killings of foreign nationalities, predominantly Nigerians living in the rainbow nation.

The new media received numerous posts, shared and re-shared videos and pictures of deadly attacks on foreigners, looting and burning of properties belonging to foreign investors and diaspora Africans living in South Africa.

However, this recurring brutality of foreigners by South Africa has continued to brew cynicism among victims, making them to ask if the government is not supporting the racial intolerance with the state broadcast by the Deputy Minister of Police in South Africa, Bongani Mkongi at the break of the unprecedented uprising.

Mkongi claimed that foreigners have hijacked a city in South Africa, putting the population of foreign nationals at 80 per cent of the city’s population, which he described as dangerous.

According to Mkongi, “the question arises and we must also investigate what the laws of South Africa say…. about Hillbrow and the surrounding area.. South Africans have surrendered their own city to the foreign nationals; the nation should discuss that particular question.”

“You won’t find South Africans in other countries in Africa dominating a city up to 80 per cent, because if we do debate that, it necessarily means that the whole of South Africa could be dominated by 80 per cent of foreigners and the future president of South Africa could be a foreign national.

He continued “We are surrendering our own land and it is not xenophobia to say the truth, we fought for this land; from a white minority, we cannot surrender it to foreign nationals…. We are 52 million people, if each and everyone can be a police officer and fight against crime, we will squeeze crime in South Africa. “

The above excerpt, which came at the wake of the xenophobic attack, ignited more reactions from Nigerians and other foreign nationals who were brutally affected by the racial intolerance, making them to feel that the attacks were not only deliberate, but also scripted by the country’s security operatives.

One of those who reacted to the SA Deputy Police Minister on the social media was the chairman, Board of Trustees of National Association of Tour Operators, Mr Nkereuwen Onung, who frowned on the incident, saying this is the thinking of the South Africans and the SA Deputy Minister of Police, our response to xenophobia in South Africa is beyond trying to destroy DStv, MTN, Shoprite, etc.

“We need the rule of law, good governance and focused leadership. Nigeria and her leadership must determine to care for her citizens, provide security and employment. We must respond responsibly to South Africa’s misdemeanor. “

Also the Ministry of External Affairs has issued a travel advisory condemning the xenophobic attack on Nigerians.

A press release signed by the spokesperson for the Ministry, Mr Ferdinard Nwoye on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 reads: The Federal Government of Nigeria totally condemned the renewed attacks on foreign nationals and their businesses in South Africa which has led to the loss of lives and properties worth millions of naira.

“The FG commends the arrest of some perpetrators of the dastardly act by the South African Police and calls for timely prosecution to serve as deterrence to others. However, due to the tension created by the attacks, the government of Nigeria wishes to advise Nigerians to avoid travelling to high risk and volatile areas until the situation is brought under control.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to assure the general public that government is committed to protecting lives and properties of Nigerians in South Africa,” the release added.

However, the xenophobic attack has started attracting reactions, with people turning down travel deals and business ventures. Just as one of Nigerian’s finest musicians, Tiwa Savage, turned down an invite to perform at a musical show in South Africa. Another Nigerian culinary expert, Chef Fatima, has cancelled a culinary competition in Johannesburg. Fatima was billed to represent Nigeria at the African chef competition, an event which started September 2, 2019.

In a Facebook post, the founder of The Team Africa, Mr Ikechi Uko, explained “Apartheid was defeated from outside by boycotts. South Africa was barred from all sporting events. Nigeria nationalised British companies in Nigeria. The uprising combined with diplomatic pressure made it happen for Africa.

“But Africa has gone beyond this. If some South Africans decide to behave badly it is the job of the government to stop the bad behaviour. If Nigerians commit crime in South Africa, they should be arrested and jailed just like FBI did, but killing Nigerians in the care of South Africa is bad.”

Uko, who frowned on the racial intolerance of the rainbow nation, said “Burning South African shops won’t stop xenophobia. There are better tools at the disposal of the Nigerian National Assembly to stop xenophobia in South Africa.

“We have had enough bloodshed. No more. If South Africans want to isolate themselves from Africa, maybe Africa should oblige them. ”

The National President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Bankole Bernard in a chat with Travelpulse&MICE, said  “we will stop all outbound promotion to South Africa to destroy their tourism business. We should recall our high commissioner with immediate effect.

“All this while there has been imbalance trade between us all, South African companies should leave Nigeria within stipulated time.”

Bernard, who also frowned on the killings of Nigerians as well as labeling them as drugs peddlers, questioned “How many Nigerian have they deported for drug-related offences? It’s a cartel and people in their government are part of it. Visa to tourists is a problem, but drug dealers get it almost immediately.

From Ghana, Mr Abeiku Aggrey Santana, media practitioner and CEO of Kaya Tours Ghana Ltd, called for revolution in Africa “I am of the view that Africa needs revolution to save our continent, he said.

“It’s time we stopped xenophobic attacks once and for all, the road map to one Africa passport is taking too long; the African Union needs a revolution, it has become a white elephant, ECOWAS is ineffective, unless there is war in its member states, the educated elites have been muffled because of their greed.

“Our tourism leaders are hypocrites and selfish, mortgaging us for chicken change. Some of us need to sacrifice unconditionally to cause a revolution.”

Managing Director of Gota Voyage, Mr Olanma Ojukwu, one of the leading tour operators in Benin Republic and, by extension Togo, said “It is unbelievable in this age and time that xenophobia is still existing in South Africa.

“History shows that Nigeria went beyond all odds to stand by her during the apartheid days. How could they have forgotten this lifetime sacrifice from Nigerians too soon?

“Recently my company (Gota Voyages) got a deal to take some family to South Africa in December but that arrangement was cancelled because of the Xenophobic attacks. Also my Lome counterpart too has put all travel deals to South Africa on hold.”

She explained that “Considering the enormity of damage done to Nigerian citizens since this abominable act started and no strong visible punishment placed on the culprits, I call on  other African countries  to join Nigeria to stop further engagements with South Africa till further notice. “

Speaking on behalf of his members, the national vice president (Western zone), National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies, Dr Dagunduro Olatokunbo, said, “we sincerely condemn the vicious act of South African citizens on our brothers and sisters resident in their country.

“We will express our solidarity to the victims by discouraging tourists to South Africa from now henceforth to show our grievance. Nigeria has invested much in South Africa from pre to post independence and till date.

“The government should also make a formal case to the African Union and the United Nations. It’s a shame for an African to kill his fellow brother. We sincerely condemn it.”

The national president of National Association of Tour Operators (NATOP), Hajia Bilikisu Abdul, who seriously condemned the attack said, “This is a national conspiracy against foreigners, especially Nigerians. From some of the videos, one can see clearly that the police are merely stopping Nigerians from retaliating, meanwhile they are not taking any action against their sponsored killer boys.

“Also if you could remember President Cyril Ramaphosa’s initial statement coupled with that of the deputy police minister which fueled the crisis. So it is high time for Nigeria to show her strength by acting decisively or else the worst is yet to come. As for the tour operators, we have agreed to stop selling South Africa for now.”

The president of Federation of Tourism Association of Nigeria (FTAN) Alhaji Rabo Saleh, who is currently in Helsinki Finland, attending WTCF Conference, said “the situation in South Africa is unfortunate and affecting tourism and African integration and every one needs to condemn it in its totality.

“I was at the South African Tourism road show in Abuja, last week and we raised the question with the embassy concerning attacks and visa to Nigerians and this is happening again. We call on the government to take all the necessary actions to stop all these in the interest of our relationship with a view to avert the recurrence of this unfortunate situation.”

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