Bureaucracy is killing the tour operator industry: Satsa

Lester Kiewit spoke to Onne Vegter, chair of the SA Tourism Services Association’s transport committee, about the impact of bureaucracy in the sector.

-Bureaucracy delays issuance of tour operator licenses

-This has prevented many tour operators from doing business

-Satsa urges the government to declare a moratorium on the issuance of licenses

Thousands of livelihoods are affected by the bureaucracy and red tape that plagues the tour operator industry. The country’s tour operators are calling on the government to intervene in what has essentially become a crisis.

According to the South African Tourism Services Association (Satsa), the National Public Transport Regulator (NPTR) – which issues accreditations and operating licenses, has not worked. Tour operators have been waiting for years to obtain an operating license for their vehicles.

Lester Kiewit spoke to Onne Vegter, the chairman of the Satsa transport committee, who said the problem persisted long before the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 900 requests are pending and nearly 400 vehicles cannot legally circulate. Those whose permits have expired can continue to be used legally due to a clause. But the cops don’t seem to know and our operators are arrested, fined, harassed and impounded.

Onne Vegter, chair of the transport committee of the SA Tourism Services Association

While a new interim NPRT board was appointed in early June, Vegter isn’t convinced there will be a positive change.

Even when there was a council before, the problems existed because the operation of the NPRT is not in accordance with the law. They misinterpret the national transport law. Execution deadlines are not respected. Operators wait six months to two years for just an operating license.

Onne Vegter, chair of the transport committee of the SA Tourism Services Association

All vehicles registered and registered to carry passengers for hire must have the appropriate certification for the road. Beyond this, an operator wishing to transport tourists must apply for accreditation and vehicles require an operating license by the NPTR. This was done in the past by a provincial office, but was changed to an office in Pretoria.

This office is completely overwhelmed. They have stacks of papers with applications, many with incomplete documents. They don’t make it and the delays are unbelievable. This means that operators cannot work.

Onne Vegter, chair of the transport committee of the SA Tourism Services Association

These delays are adding to the economic difficulties of the tourist operator, crippled by disruptions in the sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many tourism businesses are on their knees and cannot recover. We hear so many heartbreaking stories of starting a small business and wanting to get into tourism and can’t get the necessary licenses. We know of many operators who sold their vehicles who gave up on their dreams, or others forced to work illegally.

Onne Vegter – Chairman of the transport committee of the SA Tourism Services Association

Companies in the sector are asking for a moratorium to suspend the requirement for an operating license. This would save operators time to get their vehicles back on the road.

This would give us time to set up a large working team that includes all players so that we can review the regulations. The current system is not working.

Onne Vegter – Chairman of the transport committee of the SA Tourism Services Association

Scroll up for the interview.


More Local