Self-starter, Delone Jacobs – who launched his independent tour company in 2004 – is one of hundreds of operators facing closure after it took him 18 months to receive his operating licence from the National Public Transport Regulator (NPTR).
Jacobs’ company, KND Tours & Shuttles, focuses on the history and heritage sites of Soweto, Eldorado Park and Lenasia and, while he does cater for international guests, he also offers tours to locals.
Coming from an underprivileged life, Jacobs felt it was his duty to showcase local history, heritage and icons to domestic travellers and bust the myth that tourism is only for wealthy globetrotters.
“We have young and vibrant guides for our tours, which include a Fathers of Soweto Tour and a Hall of Fame Tour. We include surrounding areas that showcase the diverse food and culture of bustling Johannesburg,” he said.
The 100% black-owned company now has two (out of four) vehicles that are licensed to operate, but the 18-month delay, requiring countless “re-submissions”, has seen KND Tours & Shuttles lose bookings.
“If there are any operators in Johannesburg who need assistance, we are available,” said Jacobs.
Tourism bodies, such as Tourism Business Council South Africa (TBCSA) and the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (Satsa) have highlighted that the “massive delays” in obtaining an operating licence through the NPTR continue to severely hamper the tourism industry in South Africa.
These organisations are working together to lobby for several reforms to the current NPTR operations, which, they say, are in violation of current regulations. Some of the issues highlighted by Satsa Chief Operating Officer, Hannelie du Toit, include a lack of tourism knowledge and experience, and requirements for “irrelevant” documentation which does not distinguish between taxi operators and tour operators.
Satsa has called for an industry task team to be set up through the National Department of Tourism, National Department of Transport, NPTR and TBCSA “to research and develop a new and workable system”.
Tourism Update has undertaken to share the human side of this crisis by encouraging operators and guides to share how NPTR delays have affected them personally.