SA safer than Europe: British government

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The 2010 Fifa World Cup Organising Committee has welcomed a report from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office that shows South Africa is a safer destination for British tourists than Spain, Thailand and even Germany.

Statistically Britons were nearly twice as likely to die in Germany than in South Africa, while Thailand was the least safe destination for people from the United Kingdom, the report says.

Primedia’s Newswatch reports that while the safety of tourists during the upcoming Fifa World Cup continues to be a concern the FIFA Local Organising Committee, its spokesman Rich Mkhondo said the report was a positive development. “We have been telling people for years that South Africa is a safe destination and that people should look at their own country before they throw stones at us,” Mkhondo told the newscaster.

The report, which examined the behaviour of British tourists from April 2008 to March 2009 noted that of the 451 580 Britons who visited South Africa in that period – and a further 212 000 living in the country – there were 23 arrests, 23 hospital admissions and 48 deaths, due to either accidents, natural causes or murder. No rape or sexual assault cases were reported.

About 115 000 Britons were living in Germany at that time, with the former 2006 World Cup host attracting an extra three million British tourists. A total of 438 deaths were reported – nearly 10 times more than in South Africa. With its reported 761 000 British residents and an extra 17 million British tourists each year, Spain registered 2 290 arrests, 1 825 deaths, 22 rapes and 35 sexual assaults. Most countries had very low numbers of rape and sexual assault of Britons abroad. However, there were 28 reported rapes in Greece, 10 in Cyprus and eight in Turkey, with a further 28 sexual assault cases for the latter.

Statistically, Thailand was the least safe destination. British tourists were most likely to be arrested for drug offences, most likely to be admitted to hospital and most likely to die – all in Thailand. According to the report, a quarter of the arrests of Britons in Thailand were for drug offences. Where South Africa did fall short was in passport theft. A total of 871 British passports were reported as lost or stolen in the country during the 12-month period, the Independent Group’s newspapers reported.