23rd June 2022
South Africa’s tourism industry has called for urgent government intervention as hundreds of new and existing tour operators are unable to work, or are being forced to do so illegally, as the National Public Transport Regulator (NPTR) is not fully functional.
The Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) is calling on the Presidency’s Red Tape team to urgently step in and declare an immediate moratorium on new and renewal applications for accreditation, operating licences and permits, pending the resolution of the current impasse, as well as to appoint a task team to relook at regulation of tourism vehicles, and implement solutions at the NPTR.
“Systemic failure of the NPTR’s licence system began over five years ago, and for most of the last two and a half years, there has been no board at the NPTR at all,” the association said in an emailed statement on Wednesday (22 June).
This is not a new problem, but it is now a crisis which requires urgent intervention by the government, said Oupa Pilane, deputy chair of SATSA.
“This is quite simply untenable. We understand that after two years of no NPTR board at all, an Interim Board has been appointed, but it will take months to get up to speed and begin to address the backlog before it is able to follow the law in respect of the process and timing of licencing.”
David Frost, chief executive of SATSA, said that the licensing paralysis is causing severe economic and reputational damage to the tourism industry, as it is inhibiting the growth and job creation of small, medium, and large enterprises, and resulting in business closures and job losses.
Many of the close to 1,000 applications that have stalled at the NPTR are from SMEs and black-owned businesses. In turn, it has an increasingly negative impact on the sustainability of tourism in South Africa and the wider South African economy, he said.