South Africa is a safer tourist destination for British tourists than Spain, Thailand or even Germany.
This is according to a report released by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The report, which examined the behaviour of British tourists from April, 2008, to March, 2009, measured how much help Brits needed from their different consulates abroad.
And the results may surprise you. Of the 451 580 Britons who visited South Africa in the 12-month 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.
These statistics were from a country with a crime rate so high that a British firm, Protektorvest, felt the need to market stab-proof vests to tourists wanting to visit South Africa for the World Cup.
One British newspaper reported that some travel operators would offer armed bodyguards as part of their World Cup tour packages.
But statistically, Brits were nearly twice as likely to die in Germany than in South Africa during the same period.
About 115 000 Britons were living in Germany at the time of the study, with the former 2006 World Cup host attracting an extra 3 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.