Swakopmund sets up a tourist protection unit

In future, additional security officers from a private security firm are to patrol several tourist attractions at the coastal town.

21 November 2020 | Local News

Swakopmund • Erwin Leuschner

More than five years after the closure of the tourist police office in Swakopmund, town council has decided on a plan in a bid to guarantee the safety of tourists.

This issue was discussed at a recent council meeting.

According to a draft resolution, tourism is one of the most important industries in Swakopmund – a town that enjoys the status of being one Namibia’s most important tourist destinations. However, the municipality says this can quickly change if problems that travellers are faced with are not addressed.

This comes after multiple complaints about incidents against tourists in recent years, including “violent attacks” and other “criminal machinations”.

“Unfortunately, the majority of these cases were not resolved to the victims’ satisfaction. Therefore there is a risk that Swakopmund’s good reputation will suffer,” it continues.

The municipality said that a “well-trained tourist protection department” should solve these challenges. For this purpose, the private security company which currently monitors all municipal facilities, will provide five additional security officers who will patrol some urban areas - particularly the town centre and the area near the Ministry of Fisheries.

“This is where most of the complaints were reported,” the document reads.

The aim is to create a safe environment for tourists.

In addition, the security forces will undergo special training and could, for example, initiate preliminary investigations into criminal cases.

The idea of setting up a City Police - like in Windhoek - has been debated several times in the past in a bid to increase security in Swakopmund. “However, it was decided that no City Police would be established in Swakopmund, as [in Windhoek] this has led to many problems and excessive costs,” the Swakopmund Residents Association said, which is why council has opted for the alternative.

In December 2012, a tourist police office was set up in Swakopmund with the support of the Hospitality Association of Namibia (HAN) at the Ankerplatz. Two years later, the office – which was manned by Nampol officers – was closed. The small office was used exclusively for tourists who could file criminal charges there or report other cases