Govt 'strongly' objects to travel advisory issued by Australia

Dirco notes that the travel advisory has the potential not only to deter Australians from visiting South Africa but also to tarnish South Africa's image.

FILE: Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu addresses DIRCO staff on 6 March 2018. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - On Wednesday the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) said government takes strong exception to the travel advisory issued by the Australian government, which contains misleading information about South Africa in general and, in particular, about the experiences of foreign tourists visiting South Africa.

Dirco said Minister Lindiwe Sisulu would raise the concerns of the government relating to the advisory with her Australian counterpart, Minister Julie Bishop.

The department notes that the travel advisory has the potential not only to deter Australians from visiting South Africa but also to tarnish the country's image.

"Officials from the department of International Relations and Cooperation have in the past requested, without success, that the advisory be amended to reflect the situation in South Africa as it relates to the true experiences of foreign tourists," Dirco said.

According to the department, the decision to escalate the matter follows these unsuccessful attempts and indicates the seriousness with which the South African government values the contribution of the tourism sector to the economy.

Sisulu said: "South Africa remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and tourists in most instances have pleasant experiences of our country."

Meanwhile, in March 2018 EWN reported that Sisulu labelled comments made by Australia's Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton as misleading, alarming and harmful to South Africa's image.

Sisulu demanded a retraction of comments made by Dutton that South African farmers require “special attention” as there being persecuted.

Dutton also said white farmers should receive fast-tracked humanitarian visas from a “civilised country” like Australia.

Sisulu said these comments couldn't be further from the truth.

“We will not allow anybody, right wing or not, to use an opportunity which we are trying to tread sensitively on and abuse that to create panic. We will not stand by that.”

Sisulu said government would not tolerate any misconception on the land reform matter.

“The impression created is that white farmers in South Africa are living under horrific conditions and there is a possibility of death. And all these barbaric things are being put across about us,” she said.

Additional reporting by Mia Lindique.