South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation

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An exploratory study of international tourists' perception of danger in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town

H J Bloemhoff


The safety and security of tourists has increasingly become a concern for the tourism
industry. Since tourism is particularly sensitive to changing tastes and external
dangers, violence - whether actual or potential - can seriously impede tourist activity
through the creation of perceptions. Perceptions of risk and safety are of paramount
importance in the decision-making process of tourists since perceived risk, whether
exaggerated or realistic, impacts on intentions to travel. The purpose of this study is to
determine how tourists perceive danger within the urban holiday environments of
Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Furthermore, it aims to establish whether
gender, group composition and time of day have an influence on the perception of
danger. A questionnaire developed by Carr (2001) was used for this study. The author
deconstructed “danger” into five separate but interrelated components, namely how
safe, threatened, vulnerable, relaxed and at risk tourists feel. The data on which this
paper is based was collected from a convenience sample of 197 international tourists
interviewed at the international airports in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.
This study found that the level of danger is perceived to be higher at night, and that
similarities of perception exist between male and female respondents. Although group
forming may act as a safety net, no significant differences were found in the
perceptions of danger between the groups. Cape Town is perceived to be the safest
city, followed by Durban. Although the three selected destinations are perceived to be
relatively safe, the differences in perceived danger between the three destinations have
a major impact on the willingness of international tourists to recommend these
destinations to potential international tourists, thus illustrating the sensitivity and
significance of perceptions of danger. Strategic planning is needed to improve safety
and security in these urban settings. This will minimise the perceptions of danger as
well as the negative impact of such perceptions.

Keywords: Perceived danger; Safety and security; Urban destinations.

SAJRSPER Vol. 30 (1) 2008 pp. 1-13

AJOL African Journals Online