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.
Tour operators in South Africa require accreditation to provide tourist transport services. The current law prescribes that operating licences for tourist vehicles be issued by the NPTR, which falls under the Department of Transport, within 60 days for new operators and within a day for accredited operators.
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).
“Despite SATSA writing to both the ministers of Transport and Tourism, and after numerous engagements with the regulator and a host of technocrats within both departments, Government is yet to resolve this bureaucratic disaster.”
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.
“Post-pandemic, tourism companies are already in financial crisis but are unable to recover because hundreds of vehicles are stranded without operating licences. Many of those who do continue to operate without valid licences are being pulled over by SAPS and traffic officials who impound the vehicles, leaving tourists stranded on the side of the road.
“This is quite simply untenable. We…