As delays in obtaining operating licenses from the National Public Transport Regulator (NPTR)  threaten to further derail tourism growth, key tourism players are calling for the establishment of a task team to research and develop a new and workable system.

This is just one of many solutions the SATSA is proposing, with SATSA COO, Hannelie du Toit, saying this task team should be set up through National Department of Tourism, National Department of Transport, NPTR and Tourism Business Council of South Africa. (TBCSA)

Independent tourism and hospitality advisor, Gillian Saunders, agreed, highlighting in a recent opinion piece published by Tourism Update (TU) that there should be “an immediate overhaul of the NPTR with respect to tourism transport licenses, and a moratorium for operators who have been unable to obtain renewals, or licenses for their new vehicles”.

Du Toit told TU that there had been some progress following a meeting with TBCSA and the new director general of Transport, Alec Moemi,  earlier this month.

“Overall it was a positive meeting with an announcement from NPTR that a new IT system will be in place before the end of the year and this, together with new staff appointments, should ease capacity constraints,” related du Toit.

According to her, Moemi had  also committed to meet with the NPTR Board, through a proxy from the Minister of Transport, to investigate issues such as variation from current regulation with regard to accreditation

Some of the challenges highlighted at this meeting included processing delays, NPTR capacity constraints, overstepping of the NPTR Board mandate, irrelevant documentation requirements including the validity of route descriptions, and the issue of accredited operators having to follow an arduous new application route.

Du Toit said industry’s suggested way forward to resolve these challenges would be to, amongst others,  issue additional or renewed Operating Licences for all accredited operators within the period stipulated by the current regulations and not through a new application process or board approval.

“The NPTR should also extend a temporary amnesty to all operators who are caught up in the processing delay, which should be clearly communicated to all provincial and municipal traffic departments,” she said, pointing out that this would allow operators to continue working while solutions to the current crisis are found.

Furthermore, the requirements for new applicants should be followed as per the current regulations. “Irrelevant additional documents, including recommendation letters and the issuing of routes – which are for public transport not tourist services – should be eliminated.

Du Toit emphasised that it was important to ensure that the NPTR understood tourism through the appointment of  individuals with actual in-depth tourism transport experience, especially on the NPTR Board.