The Standing Committee on Finance, Economic Opportunities and Tourism received a briefing from the Departments of Economic Development, Home Affairs, Transport, and from Wesgro – on the tourism readiness plans for the 2022/23 tourism season in the Western Cape.
During its briefing, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism focused on three areas: projections for the upcoming season; destination readiness; and destination accessibility. On projections for the upcoming season, it reported bookings for the rest of the year are well ahead of 2021 levels, almost three times greater. Over 75% of the bookings are from Northern and Western Europe, and North America. About 50% of all bookings are from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Germany and the Netherlands. The key African markets are Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. The season is currently at 132% of Cruise Cape Town target for arriving passengers. The cruise season was launched on 19 October 2021, with the official arrival of the Hanseatic Spirit to the Port of Cape Town.
On destination readiness, the Committee was informed that the national Department of Tourism implements the National Tourism Safety Strategy in collaboration with provinces. A total of 300 tourism monitors were deployed in 2022. The current phase of the programme ends in November and it is hoped that the next phase would commence in February 2023. However, the Department of Tourism has secured the commitment from the South African Police Services that police reservists would be available during the summer season to assist with tourism safety. The Department of Economic Development and Tourism continually engages the Department and the police on this.
Wesgro took the Committee through the domestic and international market attraction and readiness. The focus is on attracting a fair share of travellers into the Western Cape, engaging trade and industry through events, trade shows, hosting and tourism safety. The idea behind the campaign is to showcase the Western Cape as a world-class destination that is affordable and accessible. The collateral is to change the perceptions about Western Cape. The reasons for travelling are provided nationally and provincially. The Western Cape has a higher share than national. The average length of stay in the province is 3.8 days, which is higher than national. Day trips are higher in percentage than national. Most people come from the province itself, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. Research and bookings are made online in the majority. Radio is a big channel for a domestic audience. The approach of showcasing all the regions through Faraway Feeling ensures regional spread. The traveller can experience a world-class travel experience much closer to home and pay for this experience in local currency.
Airports Company South Africa highlighted, in its presentation, the state of readiness of CTA for the 2022/2023 tourism season. The company shared steps taken to address and mitigate against jet fuel shortages during the tourism season, and it shared the status of the onboarding of biometric scanners at Cape Town Airport. The key focus areas are around providing additional resources to ensure availability of jet fuel, improving resourcing for Home Affairs and trolley management resources; improving safety and security to improve traffic management; prevention of baggage pilferage and intrusion on airside; and strengthening the South African Police Services and Metro Police support; making infrastructure available; manage or mitigate congestion; and to improve service.
It was further stated movements at the Cape Town International Airport are expected to fully recover during this peak season. The focus would be on limiting waiting times, preventing congestion and ensuring an improved passenger experience. Safety and security would remain a key focus. The Department of Home Affairs was requested to increase resource deployment to limit waiting times at immigration departures and arrivals. Egates would be used to improve the passenger experience at immigration. Additional metro police deployment on the landside would assist with traffic management on the boulevard road.
The Department of Home Affairs reported that it entered into a memorandum of agreement in 2020, with the Department of Higher Education and Training, to draft the new Critical Skills List based on a scientific research methodology. To date, in the current 2022/23 performance year, the Department has processed approximately 3 182 critical skills work visa applications and close to 1 013 permanent residence applications, based on critical skills. The Department recounted that President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his 2022 State of the Nation Address, announced that the South African government would be reviewing South Africa's work visas to explore the possibility of new categories, including a remote-working visa. A comprehensive report on the review of the work visa system was recently completed by the Operation Vulindlela Team led by former Director-General of Home Affairs, Mr Mavuso Msimang. The Report recommends the possibility of new visa categories that could enable economic growth, such as a start-up visa and a remote working visa. The introduction of new visa categories would most certainly require a review and amendment of the Immigration Act, as all current visa categories are legislated.
The Department of Transport reported that challenges were around delays in the issuing of tourism transport operating licences (OLs) and accreditation certificates, pro-longed absence of the National Public Transport Regulator Committee, thus more delays and backlog of applications, lack of coherent and functional information system, and interpretation of the National Land Transport Amendment Bill.
To the Department and Wesgro, Members asked how tourism would be extended to other communities like Mitchells Plain because tourists would soon be flocking to the Western Cape. They asked how the Western Cape was planning to do business with West and East Africa, just like Sao Paulo in Brazil, because it finds it easy to do business with these African regions. They asked if it was true that smaller tourism entities had troubles over the last two years and had left the industry due to covid-19, and they also wanted to know if COVID-19 screening measures would still be considered and in which way. They asked what safety measures have been put in place to protect visitors because crime tends to escalate during the festive season. Lastly, they enquired if township tourism has been integrated through Wesgro and the Department, so that enterprises in the townships could benefit.
Members wanted to understand from the Airports Company why it was difficult to get the jet fuel, and if it was because the suppliers did not want to supply it. They wanted to know the timelines regarding the refinery process on jet fuel, and asked if that was done in the past and what stopped the process. They asked how the company would ensure that luggage arrived faster without having to wait for a long time. They asked if the company would be able to deal effectively with fake Uber drivers.
To the Departments of Home Affairs, Members sought clarity on the legislation to amend remote working visa, because the Department of Economic Opportunities has researched remote working visas. They asked what steps have been taken to correct complaints about visas in Home Affairs, and how to upgrade Home Affairs networks in terms of ICT operations. They also asked about steps to be taken to improve the processing of visas for South Africans living abroad and expatriates. They wanted to find out what the timelines are on remote working visas.
To the Department of Transport, they asked if there would be any protection that long-distance bus service operators would receive because long-distance buses have been attacked lately. They wanted to understand how the Department would ensure issued permits are going to be used, and that no one is going to stop them because some areas like Idutywa and Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape are no-go areas. They also asked what the Minister has done with the 150 incidents reported in the last two years.
Briefing by the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT)
Ms Ilsa van Schalkwyk, Chief Director, DEDAT, focused her presentation on three areas: projections for the upcoming season, destination readiness, and destination accessibility. On projections for the upcoming season, she reported that bookings for the rest of the year are well ahead of 2021 levels – almost three times greater. Over 75% of the bookings are from Northern and Western Europe and North America. About 50% of all bookings are from the UK, USA, Germany and the Netherlands. The key African markets are Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.
The Western Cape cruise season for the 2022/23 period has added five new ships to the booking schedule. Preliminary bookings for the 2022/23 season already indicate 75 ship visits into Cape Town.
The season is currently at 132% of Cruise Cape Town target for arriving passengers. The cruise season was launched on 19 October 2021 with the official arrival of the Hanseatic Spirit to the Port of Cape Town.
She also reported that Minister Wenger hosted a summer readiness dialogue in October 2022 to discuss key issues facing the industry in anticipation of a busy tourism season. A total of 50 representatives from the industry attended the event. Panel discussions looked at what is needed from destination readiness, air and cruise accessibility, and skills perspectives.
Regarding destination readiness, the Committee was informed that the national Department of Tourism implements the National Tourism Safety Strategy in collaboration with provinces. A total of 300 tourism monitors were deployed in 2022. The current phase of the programme comes to an end in November, and it is hoped that the next phase would commence in February 2023. However, the Department of Tourism has secured the commitment from the South African Police Services (SAPS) that police reservists would be available during the summer season to assist with tourism safety. DEDAT is continually engaging the Department and SAPS on this.
The Tourism Law Enforcement unit in the City of Cape Town would be funded and overseen by the Department of Community Safety, and then implemented by the City of Cape Town. The CBD (central business district), Table Mountain, Signal Hill, V&A Waterfront and the Bo-Kaap areas would continue to be patrolled daily. E-bikes would boost law enforcement to broaden the unit’s patrol footprint. More importantly, they will help improve their response time to any incidents that may occur. The SAPS would have six victim support centres set up in the Western Cape in preparation for the festive season, which tourists could also use. The centres are in George, Belville, Khayelitsha, Mannenburg, Worcester and Atlantis.
The Cape Town Central City Improvement District has introduced new urban management projects in the CDB, such as state-of-the-art street sweeper machines, to keep the streets clean. Security personnel patrolling the CBD and V&A Waterfront would be equipped with front-facing body cameras. The CCID has increased the number of their security personnel and has new patrol vehicles to ensure that they improve its response to incidents.
The tourism safety support unit would be operational during the summer season. Support available includes:
-Medical/emotional trauma, visiting hospitals
-Advise on short-term temporary accommodation
-Help with basic necessities, where possible
-Help with contacting family or friends
-Advise on short-term transport arrangements
-Contacts embassies in case of lost passports and visas.
The Tourism Safety Support Programme would be reintroduced to consulates and industry to increase awareness of services on offer to tourists in distress. DEDAT is currently in the process of procuring new safety brochures that would be distributed to accommodation establishments, major tourism attractions, airports, tourism offices, hospitals and police stations across the province.
Concerning destination accessibility, she stated DEDAT had conducted a survey on tourists’ visa constraints to identify possible pain points and areas, which will drive efforts to improve the visa regime. This has to be done with other partners and mandate owners, i.e., provincial Department of Home Affairs and the national Department of Transport. The Western Cape’s key source markets do not need visas (limited to 90 days or less). According to Home Affairs, the eVisa system is being extended to more countries.
There have been some challenges with the eVisa system, particularly in Africa, and these seem to affect business travellers in particular. There is also a challenge in Nigeria, as applications must be made in Abuja as opposed to Lagos. According to the Department of Home Affairs, these challenges were being addressed. There is no clarity at present regarding timelines for implementing a remote-work visa. Extensive lobbying work has been done with a formal submission on amendments to the Immigration Act regulations, enabling a remote-work visa for a 12-month stay in South Africa.
Steps have been taken by Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) to ensure that jet fuel stocks are maintained and closely monitored. An additional tank has been made available. The Air Access and Cruise Cape Town teams have planned a series of events and activations to support airlines and cruise ships returning to the province this season. A total of 42 learners funded by DEDAT would be placed at Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) to assist with general tasks in and around the airport. Furthermore, the Artisan Development Programme is also working with ACSA to place apprenticeship candidates at CTIA within the next two months to provide workplace experience to these beneficiaries.
Ms van Schalkwyk also touched on workforce readiness. She stated COVID-19 had worsened skills constraints in some sub-industries, e.g., hospitality and events. This is a result of the fact that some workers now regard these industries as risky. There are also longstanding perceptions regarding poor pay and long and inconvenient working hours. Skills constraints cover a range of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills.
Digital disruption has added to the skills needs given that the tourism and travel industries have been early adopters of tech. COVID-19 accelerated this trend.
The DEDAT Skills Unit has been focusing on skills initiatives to assist youth with training and experiential learning opportunities, and ensure work placement readiness. A total of 245 learners have already been placed, including at the Cape Town International Airport, through CapeNature and various members of Fedhasa in the hotel and restaurant industry. There would also be a focus on soft skills and other competencies such as problem-solving, adaptability and professionalism – to assist the youth with workplace readiness. There would be focus on improving communication and awareness between industry and academia regarding the opportunities for work placements. Input from industry would be key to determine the type of skills and preferred training modalities to better respond to industry needs. A skills survey is being conducted. In partnership with SA Tourism, workshops on customer care would be conducted during November for frontline staff at key tourism facilities.
She further stated they had launched the activation and communication programme for the summer season. A consolidated schedule of district summer season activations would be finalised during November, and support would be provided to districts regarding the distribution of visitor safety information. White label safety collateral would also be shared with the industry. In addition, WCG social media would be used to encourage domestic markets to explore the province while communicating safety tips.
Briefing by Wesgro
Ms Jean Scheltema, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer, took the Committee through the domestic and international market attraction and readiness. The focus is on attracting a fair share of travellers into the Western Cape, and engaging trade and industry through events, trade shows, hosting and tourism safety. The idea behind the campaign is to showcase the Western Cape as a world-class destination that is affordable and accessible. The collateral is to change the perceptions about Western Cape. The reasons for travelling are provided nationally and provincially. The province has a higher share than national. The average length of stay in the province is 3.8 days – higher than national. Day trips are higher in percentage than national. Most people come from the province itself, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. Research and bookings are made online in the majority. Radio is a big channel for domestic audiences. The approach of showcasing all the regions through Faraway Feeling ensures regional spread. The traveller can experience a world-class travel experience much closer to home and pay for this experience in local currency.
There is ongoing support for events in all six regions. Regional jewel events serve as a unique opportunity to target the domestic market and regional spread. The ongoing support is for jewel events such as the Cape Town Cycle Tour, Cape Town Jazz Festival, Cape Epic and Cape Town Carnival. Cape Town and the Western Cape have space. The cities in the province are less crowded than their counterparts in Europe. The towns more open. And in between, there are beaches, mountains, vineyards, forests, and even deserts. But the province offers so much more than just wide-open spaces. There is the experience of what it feels like to be here –the eating, the drinking, the adventure, and the people.
Concerning Campaign PCA, which is aimed at the international market, she said it is too early in the campaign cycle to report results. However, the YouTube video has already garnered 871 000 views to date.
Ms Monika Luel, Chief Destination Marketing Officer, briefed the Committee on how they were engaging the trade and industry. She said that they pride themselves on being the cradle of humankind. Media hosting would be done along the West Coast to explore the !Khwa ttu San Cultural & Education Centre; Sevilla Rock Art Trail, Truitjieskraal; the new Elands Bay Museum and West Coast Fossil Park. Also, the SA wine industry is the only one with a birthday in the world. There would be the SA Wine Birthday Celebration – a month long campaign with industry, promoting to the domestic and international market. It would happen from mid-January to mid-February. Wesgro is also doing the Joint Cradle of Humankind and Cradle of Human Culture, hosting with local travel trade and targeted media in selling the Cradle and SA narrative. The South African Tourism Association (SATSA), in collaboration with Wesgro, is hosting an inbound tourism programme focusing on adventure to position the Western Cape as a leading adventure destination. Further, Wesgro has a Wild Air TV activation programme focusing on Cederburg to showcase the region and the cycling route on their platforms. This would possibly be shown on Supersport.
(Graphs and tables were shown to illustrate international access and marketing efforts: upcoming IATA winter season route network Nov 2022 – March 2023; Cape Town route and airline update; and Cruise Cape Town future performance outlook. See presentation document.)
Briefing by ACSA
Mr Terence Delomoney, Group Executive: Operations Management, ACSA, informed the Committee that this was a critical time for them in the aviation industry, to see recovery because they have been in a challenging period due to the pandemic. They had to get to a stage where they had to reduce resources. But now the passengers are starting to come back, and the company has to bring back the retired infrastructure. Everything is done in line with the start of the big season. The matter of resources is a key one for them and users. Key partners and stakeholders like the Department of Home Affairs are trying to ensure resources are in place. The risk of jet fuel at Cape Town International Airport has not been eliminated entirely. Things happening globally impact the country’s ability to get jet fuel. The demand for jet fuel has to be met by suppliers. It is all about balancing matters and finding solutions.
Mr Mark Maclean, Regional General Manager for the Cape Town International Airport, highlighted the state of readiness of Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) for the 2022/2023 tourism season. He shared steps taken to address and mitigate against jet fuel shortages during the tourism season. He shared the status of the onboarding of biometric scanners at Cape Town International Airport.
It is expected that international travel would drive CTIA recovery in IATA (International Air Transport Association) W22 due to the increase in new and returning airlines as well as additional frequencies of existing carriers. Domestic recovery is slower than international, given the loss of domestic carriers relative to IATA W21.
He said that key focus areas are around providing additional resources to ensure availability of jet fuel, improving resourcing for Home Affairs and trolley management resources; improving safety and security to improve traffic management; prevention of baggage pilferage and intrusion on airside; and strengthening support to SAPS and Metro Police; making infrastructure available; managing or mitigating congestion; and improving service. The following are some response plans in key focus areas:
-Additional security deployment on the landside, to be supported by SAPS and Metro Police;
-Focus on crime prevention;
-Focus on prevention of touting;
-Focus on vehicle management to prevent congestion;
-Heighted focus on the invaded eastern land, which borders the perimeter fence.
In trying to improve passenger experience, amongst other things, a special event programme would be done in collaboration with Cape Town Tourism. Learners (National Department of Tourism and Department of Economic Development and Tourism – Western Cape) would be deployed to assist with general operations and passenger facilitation. The focus would be on facilitation of passengers through immigration using the e-gates. Plants in the terminal and festive décor would be installed, and there would be a new generic airline lounge for international departures in December 2022.
The following is a summary of current challenges:
-The bulk of JET A1 fuel supply at CTIA is currently dependent on import shipments.
-JET A1 shipment imports are placed two to three months in advance. Accurately forecasted projections of JET A1 are therefore critically important.
-COVID-19 has introduced greater uncertainty into the market.
-There is high passenger and ATM growth in international traffic.
-Fuel suppliers will order JET A1 according to the demand placed on them by airlines.
On peak seasons plans for the jet fuel: all airlines have to confirm that they have placed their demand forecast for the peak season
, confirm they have contingent suppliers, share peak season projections with JET fuel suppliers, and have matching supply and demand per airline and per site.
The CTIA has constructed an additional fuel tank that would be commissioned at the end of November 2022. This will add an additional two days of stock holding at the airport during peak season. ACSA requested the fuel suppliers to ensure that additional shipments of JET A1 are ordered to cater for growth and additional flight schedules. ACSA has also requested the acceleration of the start-up of JET A1 fuel production at the local refinery.
In his conclusion, he stated movements at the CTIA are expected to fully recover during this peak season. The focus would be on limiting waiting times, preventing congestion and ensuring an improved passenger experience. Safety and security would remain a key focus. The Department of Home Affairs was requested to increase resource deployment to limit waiting times at immigration departures and arrivals. E-gates would be used to improve the passenger experience at immigration. Additional metro police deployment on the landside would assist with traffic management on the boulevard road. The risk of JET A1 supply shortages remains, due to the airport’s current dependency on JET A1 imports.
The Cape Town International Airport appreciated the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism and the National Department of Tourism, for the deployment of learners and tourism monitors to assist with passenger facilitation.
Briefing by the Department of Home Affairs
Mr Yusuf Simons, Acting Deputy Director-General: Immigration Services, DHA, informed the Committee Home Affairs entered into a memorandum of agreement (MoA) in 2020 with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), for the drafting of the new Critical Skills List based on a scientific research methodology. To date, in the current 2022/23 performance year, the Department has processed approximately 3 182 critical skills work visa applications and close to 1 013 permanent residence applications based on critical skills.
He recounted that President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his 2022 State of the Nation Address (SONA), announced that the South African government would be reviewing South Africa's work visas to explore the possibility of new visa categories, including a remote-working visa. The Operation Vulindlela Team recently completed a comprehensive report on the review of the work visa system, led by former Director-General of Home Affairs, Mr Mavuso Msimang. The report recommends the possibility of new visa categories that could enable economic growth, such as a start-up visa and a remote working visa. The introduction of new visa categories would most certainly require a review and amendment of the Immigration Act, as all current visa categories are legislated.
The Department is, regularly, increasing its visa exemption list. There are now 148 countries that have a visa agreement with South Africa. These countries can enter SA between 30-90 days without obtaining a visa. The rollout of the e-Visa system is also part of government’s plans to streamline and modernise the visa application process to make it easier to travel to South Africa for tourism, business and work. The e-Visa system has, to date, been launched and piloted in 14 countries, including China, India, Kenya and Nigeria – according to government’s commitment.
Mr Simons said that the rollout out of the eVisa system is also part of government’s plans to streamline and modernise the visa application process to make it easier to travel to South Africa for tourism, business and work. The South Africa e-visa application is aimed at making the immigration process more fluid and amplifying border security checks. It allows eligible foreigners with a trusted travel history to enter the country without going to an embassy. The e-Visa enables the prospective visitor to apply for a Visa from his/her home country online without visiting the Mission. It also allows for the online and secure payment of the visa fee. On arrival, the visitor presents the authorisation to the immigration authorities who would then stamp the entry into the country. The South Africa online visa is aimed at being available to a larger number of nationalities once the system has been stabilised for the 14 countries.
Briefing by the Department of Transport (DoT)
Mr Mathabatha Mokonyama, Deputy Director-General: Public Transport, enlightened the Committee that there are matters that are almost intertwined around operating licences for tour operators. The National Public Transport Regulator (NPTR) was established in 2016. The Department has been reforming the system to support the tourism sector. Operators who have been on the Department’s case have not come up to pick up their licences. He stated there was nothing wrong with section 26 of NPTR. It assists provinces and municipalities in working together. The Western Cape wants to process the tour operating licences. If the Department could enter into an MOU with the Western Cape, the tour operating licences would delay more because the Western Cape would have to seek concurrence with other provinces.
He further stated all tour operating licences had been approved, but people were not coming to pick up their licences. Due to COVID-19 regulations, some could not get the money to buy vehicles. He appealed to the industry to help the Department find these people, to see if they were still interested. The whole process takes 60 days. People have been called to come to pick up their licences and for the Department to find out what the problems are.
Mr Moeketsi Sikhudo, Director, Department of Transport, reported that challenges were around delays in the issuing of tourism transport operating licences (OLs) and accreditation certificates; pro-longed absence of the National Public Transport Regulator Committee, thus more delays and backlog of applications; lack of coherent and functional information system, and interpretation of the National Land Transport Amendment Bill. The following are interim mechanisms in place:
-Moratorium to extend validity period of expired OLs
-Cancellation of prohibiting words on renewal receipts
-Letter to override prohibiting words on renewal receipts
-Review the requirements to lodge applications
-Enable online applications
He also indicated that the Minister appointed members of the interim NPTR Committee in April 2022. The principal task of the NPTR Committee is to expedite the processing of applications in backlog, by the end of September 2022. Applications were found to be in backlog. Since June 2022, 1 242 applications have been considered and adjudicated by the NPTR Committee; 1017 were approved, 185 postponed, and 40 were refused. A total of 369 applications were uplifted (OL’s). The next adjudication meeting has been scheduled for 19 to 21 November 2022. By the end of September 2022, the target to finalise backlogs had been reached. The NPTR would be embarking on a drive to encourage operators to uplift their operating licences.
Concerning recent developments: industry players and media have requested intervention from the Presidency on NPTR challenges. A task team was set up to address all challenges by meeting weekly to monitor progress on clearing the backlog to meet end of September targets and to identify and reduce red tape, improving efficiency and turnaround time. The task team is engaging the NPTR Committee on requirements to lodge applications and validity periods of OLs. There are ongoing internal engagements with the Department’s IT to cancel prohibiting words on renewal receipts. The National Land Transport Information System (NLTIS) is being redeveloped into an automated system to enable online applications, communicate real time status of applications and monitor progress of applications.
Regarding inter-provincial OLs, tour operators may apply for an authority that allows them to operate within one province or within the borders of South Africa. It has long been established that most of the applications for operating licenses of tourist transport services received by the NPTR are from the Western Cape and comprise both intra and interprovincial services. Finalising the National Land Transport Amendment Bill by Parliament would go a long way towards having a permanent NPTR Committee. Continuous engagements with the stakeholders, industry representatives and government departments are being prioritised.
Mr R Mackenzie (DA) wanted to know how tourism would be extended to other communities like Mitchells Plain, because tourists would soon be flocking to the Western Cape. He asked how the Western Cape was planning to do business with West and East Africa just like Sao Paulo in Brazil, because it finds it easy to do business with these African regions. He also sought clarity on frustrations experienced by Australians trying to get to SA.
Ms van Schalkwyk (DEDAT) said extending the offer is critical to linking tourism with unknown spaces. It is all about building an itinerary with local municipalities. The work they do in product development is key. This is part of the research they have done to see how they could support other businesses.
Ms Luel (Wesgro) added that they partner with SA Conference Business, where they try developing small towns with infrastructure to host long conferences. Community tourism is being brought to the value chain. Hybrid options are starting to emerge. A conference in a small town has a ripple effect on marketing the town and its culture. There has been more interest from conference organisers to have no conferences in the city but in outlying areas like Stellenbosch.
Ms Wrenelle Stander, Chief Executive Officer, Wesgro, added that they were seeing an increase in the bids they are competing in when it comes to business tourism. Seven conferences are planned to be hosted here in Cape Town.
Mr Zakhele Thwala, Deputy Director-General: Civil Aviation, National DoT, explained that Brazil has eight frequent flights to both countries. Tourism operators need to decide if they want to move into that space. The problem lies with the national carrier. Qantas is still flying to Australia. This is an issue that both the Department of Transport and DEDAT could decide on if they still want to use an ailing national carrier. A summit would be taking place next year to see if the DoT could influence the national carrier to fly wherever they decide.
Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) asked if it was true that smaller tourism entities had troubles over the last two years, and if they had left the industry due to covid-19. She wanted to find out if there was a demand for direct flights to Cape Town and if that demand had been met.
Ms van Schalkwyk (DEDAT) responded that they had seen a shift where businesses have closed. Big companies have stabilised, and there is upscaling and re-hiring of staff that was retrenched.
Ms Stander said that 25 airlines were flying directly to the Western Cape from 28 countries. With regions not directed straight like South America, there are talks about direct flights to Johannesburg. Discussions are on-going between Eastern and Western Africa.
Ms N Nkondlo (ANC) wanted to understand if COVID-19 screening measures would still be considered and in which way. She asked what safety measures have been put in place to protect visitors, because crime tends to escalate during the festive season. Lastly, she asked if township tourism has been integrated through Wesgro and DEDAT so that enterprises in the townships could benefit.
Ms Corne Koch, Head: Convention Bureau, Wesgro, said that small enterprises had been trained on occupational skills programme and COVID-19 protocol. The Department has improved the complaints lines, as there are now fewer volumes of complaints.
Ms van Schalkwyk added that many companies have re-employed staff post-COVID-19 and upskilled it for the future across the value chain. This also includes academia. She further indicated that, during the tourism month, the key aspect was to market other events and areas available in the province. For example, people need to know the best place that sells fish and chips in Hout Bay.
Mr G Brinkhuis (Al Jama-ah) wanted to find out how local communities could benefit locally because these kinds of presentations happen when local people are at work and people would love to participate.
Ms Stander (Wesgro) said that the matter of access to communities comes up every year. There is a need to spend a lot of time on this to give it more focus and emphasis to increase beneficiaries.
The Chairperson asked if growth is projected during this coming summer season and how long the season would last compared to the previous ones. She also asked what efforts were in place to attract those in the West African region. Lastly, she wanted to know the number of reservists identified to assist in hotspot areas.
Ms van Schalkwyk responded that there is no limit on the number of reservists, and indicated that they were working closely with SAPS.
Ms Stander said that November and December are usually recovery months. January is the growth period.
Deliberations with ACSA
Mr Mackenzie wanted to understand why it was difficult to get the jet fuel, and if it was because the suppliers did not want to supply it. He asked how they would ensure that luggage arrived faster without having to wait for a long time. Lastly, he asked if they would be able to deal with fake Uber drivers effectively.
Mr McClain explained that suppliers are ordering according to orders they receive, but cannot order higher volumes because there is limited storage capacity locally. Suppliers have been asked to order more because of commercial considerations. He said that luggage is an important key performance indicator. The airport is achieving good baggage offload time. There has been an incident where other bags were left in other international airports, resulting in late delivery of the baggage. Those airports have investigated this. He also stated that touting is limited. A large group of people have been authorised formally and branded by the CTIA. The airport is working hand in hand with SAPS and a security company in the form of a response team to prevent touting.
Mr Delomoney stated that they would love to have a stock of three to six months, but there are costs for the storage of the stock. The country does not have a policy on holding refined crude jet fuel.
Mr van der Westhuizen enquired what would happen if seats were over-booked because airlines would be fighting over the Cape Town route.
Mr McClain said that there are flights with high load factors, especially those between Johannesburg and Cape Town, because there is a demand for seats, resulting in more aircraft. By the start of next year, some aircraft would come into the market.
Mr Delomoney said they saw an excess of 90% from domestic. Domestic airlines are bringing in new aircraft. There is a gap for another airline to come in and close the gap. The process is looking more positive than in the past. A total of 41 new international airlines are coming back.
Mr Brinkhuis asked what is being done to eradicate beggars at the airport because that is detrimental to the image of the airport. He said that he witnessed something disturbing at the CTIA, where two individuals were begging from people sitting at a restaurant.
Mr McClain stated that there is a range of activities to prevent begging. The airport works closely with SAPS, and there are cameras around the airport to limit begging at the terminals.
The Chairperson wanted to know the timelines regarding the refinery process on jet fuel, and asked if that was done in the past and what stopped the process. She asked what the timelines are for expanding biometric gates; enquired if there were any lessons learnt from engagements with other airports to ensure Cape Town airport is prepared and ready; and asked what might be the impact of the protest on the operations.
Mr McClain stated that the refinery had an explosion prior to COVID-19. Jet fuel was produced locally, supplementing stock imports of jet fuel. Jet fuel production would resume before the end of the year. He said that the biometric system is online and fully operational. Local and international travellers use e-gates. There is a greater utilisation of e-gates. Other airports like King Shaka and OR Tambo are also planning to introduce e-gates.
On lessons learnt, he said they anticipate growth in numbers and respond in time, using resources internally and externally. Training and deployment are provided. That was the focus in the previous months. He also indicated the security agencies were looking at the risks concerning the strike. The focus would be on the route and picketing inside the airport. There is a contingency plan in place. Senior staff members would be on standby, and the plans in place would be sufficient.
Mr Delomoney added that, in the US and UK, many people left the aviation industry during COVID-19 and joined other industries, but the recovery has been faster this year. He further indicated that they have service expansion plans, but they had to be changed when COVID-19 came. The plans are not discarded and those projects would still be done subject to approvals from the regulations. They would be continued using current resources.
Deliberations with the Department of Home Affairs
The Chairperson remarked that it was good to learn Home Affairs had its own tourism plans. She sought clarity on the legislation to amend remote working visas because the Department of Economic Opportunities has done some research on remote working visas. She asked what steps have been taken to correct complaints about visas at Home Affairs. She also asked what steps would be taken to upgrade the Home Affairs network, in terms of IT operations. Lastly, she asked what steps would be taken to improve the processing of visas for South Africans living abroad and expatriates.
Mr Tommy Makhode, Director-General, stated that they are currently reviewing citizenship and the work the Presidency is doing is aligned with what the Department is doing. By 2023/24, policy instruments would be finalised, considering the integration of systems with ACSA to facilitate the movement of passengers faster. He said that their work with Kenya is doing wonders and now they are negotiating with Romania. He stated that the VFs are mitigating some of the challenges people were experiencing with the UK and have asked her (UK) to see if it could assist SA in enabling easy passage of passengers.
On missions abroad, the Department took the delegates to process the applications, but this has caused backlogs due to COVID-19. Those backlogs are in other countries as well. The Department is trying to increase capacity so that visa applications could be processed faster. The delegates were taken from the missions because of a lot of irregularities. Processes were not followed. There is a need to embark on legislation amendments.
Mr Simons said that the strategy on tourism is dealing with matters related to tourism, and details would be sent to the Committee at a later stage. “When you pilot, you get to know where to change and enhance”, he explained. Capacity has been increased. About 5 800 backlogs in the e-visa area would be finalised by the end of January 2023. A site has been identified for the IT system for people to apply electronically. He further indicated investment visas and other visas would be finalised before the end of November 2022. Many resources have been put into processing some of these investment visas abroad. The SAPS would assist where there are shortfalls in all ports of entry.
He also stated that the festive season starts from November to April in the province. The Department is working with ACSA to ensure output is managed to avoid bottlenecks at the airport. The research report would be submitted to Home Affairs and national Department of Tourism. Amendments were on regulations and timelines as well as public participation processes. The changes are not extensive. It was commissioned by the Presidency and would be shared with all stakeholders.
Mr Mackenzie wanted to know the timelines for remote working visas. He asked how far home affairs was in rolling out biometrics for dealing with immigration because it was not easy to get through the queues for tourists. Lastly, he asked if the Department is geared up to ensure no long queues.
Mr Makhode stated that more capacity was being added in the Western Cape, and there is an additional office in Pinelands. The biometric system has been rolled out in identified ports of entry, including the Cape Town, King Shaka and OR Tambo Airports, to ensure the documents for entering the country are authorised. Additional capacity has been brought in from SARS.
Deliberations with the Department of Transport
Mr Mackenzie wanted to understand the plan to coordinate and assist the tourism industry in avoiding cases like that of a German tourist killed in Mpumalanga.
Mr Mokonyama stated that the Department always runs a programme when the festive season starts and ends because things slow down towards the end of the season. The Department ups its game during the festive period on safety and checking driver behaviour.
Mr van der Westhuizen asked if there would be any protection that long-distance bus service operators would receive because long-distance buses have been attacked lately.
Mr Mokonyama admitted that it is difficult to cover all four corners. The common hotspots are shared nationally and provincially, and are monitored. Operators know where they always experience troubles. That is why the areas get policed.
The Chairperson wanted to know the period the backlog on licences covers that the Department is referring to. She asked how the Department was conducting its communication and contacts that individuals could use to get feedback from Department, to ensure that their issues are addressed. She wanted to know what is meant by “application upliftment and PRE”; enquired about what measures were put in place to support these make new applications to ensure they operate legally; and wanted to find out what the viability of the province is to be allowed to introduce the amendments.
Mr Mokonyama explained the phrase “application upliftment” refers to one collecting their licence when it has been approved, and “PRE” is an acronym for ‘Professional Regulations Entity’. He said that they would be cautious about saying the function of amendments should go to the province. “Initially, the province, before giving you a licence and allowing you to traverse to other provinces, the provinces should provide an approval”, he said. That is why it was agreed that there should be a one-stop shop. There is currently no backlog, but there should be compliance with prescripts. He also noted that the backlogs came from 2019 before CVODI-19 and got stuck during the period of the pandemic. There were 1 014 backlog figures, but now more than 600 figures have been processed and approved in the system. The operator(s) has or have to come to collect the licences.
Regarding communication, he stated that the Department would establish a call centre and share the details with the Committee secretariat – including email addresses. Concerning new applications, there are provisions for renewals. Regulation 25 is applicable in this case. If one has an old licence and can provide evidence that they have applied but can still operate, their licence would be renewed. But you would still have to be adjudicated upon. The licence is not automatic.
Mr Mackenzie asked what the latest was regarding the Intercape bus service affair in order to protect long-distance bus services and tourist buses.
Mr Mokonyama enlightened the Members that the Intercape matter was still before the court. There was an order to sit down with the SAPS to come up with a plan to protect operators and passengers. The Department is appealing some aspects of the order judgement that need to be looked at. But a plan in the Eastern Cape has been developed and shared with the SAPS and operators. Law enforcement agencies/SAPS and intelligence agencies are monitoring hotspots. Where there has been a shooting in the Western Cape, a person has been arrested, and the matter is before the court.
The Chairperson wanted to know what the backlog is for new applications, and how long it takes to process it, seeing that there were no backlogs in operating licences.
Mr Mokonyama indicated that it takes 60 days to process the application. The 60-day period is for gazetting. Then the applicant has 60 days to acquire the vehicle and its particulars for verification before collecting the licence.
Mr Mackenzie wanted to understand how the Department would ensure issued permits are going to be used and that no one is going to stop them, because some areas like Idutywa and Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape are no-go areas. He also wanted to know what the Minister has done with the 150 incidents reported in the last two years.
Mr Mokonyama explained that the Minister intervenes when the MEC is not complying with the law. Extraordinary measures are in place for the Minister to take over if the province fails. The Minister has to be made aware of the issues the MEC has to respond to. If the is no resolution, the Minister has to take over. The permit can be cancelled if the operator harasses other operators and close the route or rank. The Minister is obliged to take action, whether he/she includes the MEC or takes over himself/herself. He further indicated that the Department is taking action on known incidents. It is not refusing to implement the law. The problem started when the courts said that the MEC and Minister should jointly work together. But action has been taken on a number of incidents.
The Committee resolved action plans on the Intercape and Eastern Cape matter, and Arrive Alive plans should be forwarded to the Committee. The Committee also resolved to send congratulatory messages to the various entities for the good work they have done to prepare the Western Cape for the festive season. Other resolutions included: inviting SAT to provide a briefing for those travelling to SA; asking Home Affairs to share, with the Committee, its tourism plans; requesting the Presidency to share, with the Committee and provincial department, the report on the remote working visa submitted by Home Affairs; and to request DEDAT to provide the Committee with information on its role with the City of Cape Town, in promoting tourism in small towns and townships.
The meeting was adjourned.
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