This is a common question asked by people who have never visited South Africa. Is Cape Town safe? As a local the short answer is YES and of course I’m biased. As humans, we are fearful of the unknown and a trip to a foreign city is a trip into the unknown. However, we are here to allay your fears and to answer any questions you might have in this regard.
We asked actual tourists: Is Cape Town safe?
So instead of just giving our opinion on this important question we decided to speak to a number of tourists in Cape Town as well as get comments from visitors on Tripadvisor.
Couple in their early fifties from Liverpool, United Kingdom
We spoke to a couple from Liverpool and asked them how safe they felt while visiting Cape Town. They had been on holiday for two weeks and were staying in Camps Bay, a beautiful sea side area approximately 8km from downtown Cape Town. They had hired a vehicle and had been doing lots of traveling to lots of different places and felt very safe in their vehicle. They also felt safe when exploring the various tourist destinations they visited over the two weeks. They had been to most of the major tourist destinations and also went out at evenings for fantastic meals and at no point did they feel unsafe. Their closing remark to people considering coming to Cape Town was: “Just use common sense, don’t do anything stupid and as long as you don’t go looking for trouble you will be ok.”
Young couple from Melbourne, Australia:
We met a young couple from Melbourne that travelled to Cape Town for a friend’s wedding. They hired a vehicle on arrival and from the moment they left the airport they felt comfortable and excited to explore the beauty of Cape Town. They indicated that like any big city in the world you need to take precautions.
Any fears that they had were dispelled on the first day and crime had not cross their mind again, until we came to ask them about it!!! They drove everywhere during the day and night from their base in the suburbs to the CBD and the various tourist destinations across broader Cape Town. They felt the roads were of a high standard and well signposted which made it easy to use and get around.
They felt it was an incredible city with the most beautiful people who have a deep-rooted respect for their culture and history. In conclusion they said: “It will be the next big, giant and well-deserved tourist location in years to come and well-deserved. I think it is the most beautiful city in the world.”
We also sourced numerous positive comments on Tripadvisor from tourists who had visited the city in 2018. There were also various threads of questions from potential visitors. There seemed to be a concern around driving at night and we sourced this response from a gentleman from London who had visited Cape Town numerous times:
A level 6 contributor on Tripadvisor from London, UK:
“I have never understood the claim that people should not drive at night in South Africa (Cape Town). People do it all the time without anything out of the ordinary happening. My wife and I have had no qualms about driving at night. About the only time that we don’t use a car at night is when we go out for dinner. Then, we use a taxi so that there is no chance of running foul of being “over the limit” and getting busted for a drink/driving offense. In the large towns and cities the roads are usually well lit and the only caution that is needed is what you would have driving in any urban area anywhere in the world. But, otherwise, I do not see why driving at night should be actively discouraged.”
But is Cape Town South Africa safe from a crime statistics perspective?
This is a fair question as figures don’t lie. We cannot hide the crime statistics but you need to understand how those figures are reached. The national crime figures that are released by the South African government are often quoted by people as a reason for not visiting Cape Town. But what do these figures mean for the normal tourist, like yourself, visiting our shores?
If you dig a little deeper past the headlines and doomsayers, you can get a better picture of what safety means to you as a tourist in Cape Town. If you are a local you will know that South Africa is a country of two very different worlds. With a Gini coefficient of 0.63 in 2015, the World Bank describes South Africa as the most unequal country on earth. (We said we are going to provide honest, fair and transparent reviews on our site).
So the overall crime statistics are heavily influenced by gang violence and domestic abuse experienced in townships and informal settlements. PWC completed a report in 2018 comparing Cape Town to other cities around the world across various sectors. When looking at the crime sector they made reference to “A tale of two Cities” confirming that crime was over concentrated in certain areas which had an influence on the overall crime statistics. So as a tourist there is no reason why you should be going out of your way to visit these areas. You can ask any Capetonian and they will be able to tell you where these areas are.
But, these are areas that tourists should be staying away from. There is no rational reason why any tourist should go out of their way to visit them.
Cape Town safety in summary
I hope we have shed some light on the Cape Town safety question that has been bothering you. If you are still not convinced let me share some numbers with you.
In 2018 Cape Town International Airport surpassed 5 million arrivals, with arrivals on international flights growing 25% year-on-year. So we see a steady number of people making Cape Town there holiday and business destination. As much as 97% of travellers come to South Africa as tourists, while the rest are here for business and study purposes. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) forecasted that in 2018 the travel and tourism sector contributed R424.5bn to the overall SA economy, a growth of 3% more than in 2017. These are actual travelers that are coming to Cape Town and experiencing the Mother City hospitality. The number of international visitors to cape Town are growing with an increasing number of repeat visitors feeling very safe during their stay.
According to Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of WTTC, travel and tourism creates jobs, drives economic growth and helps build better societies. Travel and tourism supported 1.5 million jobs in SA in 2017 – 9.5% of total employment in the country. The WTTC report estimates that by 2028 almost 2.1 million jobs in SA will depend on travel and tourism.
These are substantial numbers for South Africa’s economy and by visiting our beautiful city you will be playing a big role in supporting our economy and helping to grow our country.
The million dollar question: Is Cape Town safe?
We hope we have shed some light on the subject to give you a better perspective. We think you need to look beyond the crime statistics. When you visit our beautiful city be cautious like you would be in most big cities across the world. Take advice from trusted locals. We believe that if you follow basic safety advice you will have an unforgettable experience in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
In 2014, Cape Town was named the best place in the world to visit by both The Daily Telegraph and The New York Times. We believe they were 100% correct.
Thanks for reading our blog, if you have any questions on this topic please feel to ask in the comment box below or leave comments about your own experience. We look forward to welcoming you to Cape Town, the Mother City.
Cape Town Locals provides a free advice service to visitors to Cape town to help you save money, avoid queues and make beautiful memories.