Following an article published by Southern and East African Tourism Update on 15 November – Progress made in tourism vehicle licensing backlog – SATSA remains aware of the continued concerns with applications, specifically with regards to slow processing (some more than two years), changing and unannounced requirements and issues around route authority.
In an effort to assist industry, SATSA created a tracking sheet consisting of applications verified through SATSA (as a value-add service – please note that we do not issue invoices on behalf of NPTR and don’t submit applications on behalf of members) and those submitted directly to NPTR. SATSA currently has 77 application in process with 19 having been concluded successfully.
One of the changes recently implemented is that only the owner of the vehicle can apply for the Operating Licence. Previously a lease document was accepted, but due to specific regulations in the Act this is no longer acceptable. The impact of this on operators would be to ensure that rented vehicles have valid Operating Licences. SATSA is currently seeking clarification from the NPTR on whether the driver of the vehicle needs to be employed by the owner of the vehicle. The amendment bill in process might affect some changes to the ownership regulation, but this is expected to be a long process.
A number of concerns were raised with SATSA regarding route authority specifying the pick-up point at the operators depot/office. The NTPR clarified that the pick-up point should be read as the point from where the vehicle departs – in other words where the vehicle is parked overnight.
Continuing with route authority issues, it became clear very early on that the initially promised national route authority was not going to transpire. Authority is now based on the strength of the application, specifically the reference letters. Members are encouraged to obtain reference letters from each province they wish to conduct tours in and these letters should reference the routes requested in the application. For those members whose route authority has changed, you have the option to apply for amendment of the route now providing greater motivation or you can make an appeal through the Transport Appeal Tribunal. The cost for an amendment to routes will be R300 per vehicle and an application through the Transport Appeal Tribunal will cost R1000.
The NPTR clarified that they often request additional supporting documents to assist the board in identifying authentic tourism applicants. Due to certain public-service taxi routes being oversubscribed, the NPTR have received applications from taxis operators who are now applying under the guise of tourist providers. SATSA strongly advises that all the documentation is completed as thoroughly and in as much detail as possible.
It has been a frustrating process and has had a huge economic impact on the industry, hence SATSA has not stopped lobbying. The latest movement is that David Frost again raised the issue with the Minister of Tourism during the Ministerial Leadership Forum where the Minister promised to take the issue up with the Minister of Transport. SATSA will continue to keep members updated on this.