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TBCSA fights DHA delays

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TBCSA fights DHA delays

The TBCSA has presented a contingency plan to alleviate the lengthy delays caused by the Department of Home Affairs staff shortages at major airports across the country. The implementation now relies on Home Affairs. TBCSA CEO, Mmatšatši Ramawela, says multiple interim solutions are required to address the immediate problem.

The TBCSA put forward a multi-action proposal during a meeting on November 4 between the Minister of Tourism, captains of the tourism industry and National Treasury. DHA wasn’t present. Ramawela says The Department of Tourism is meeting with the DHA and other government departments on an unknown date to see that initiatives contained in the proposal are taken forward.

In its short- to medium-term proposal the TBCSA has suggested that all immigration counters remain staffed by bringing in SAPS officials to man the stations on the departures side of the airports. “This was done in 2010 and there were no issues of congestion despite the fact that we were welcoming a lot of people in one go,” says Ramawela.

She says the biggest requirement for officials on the departures side is security clearance, which SAPS officials already have, so all they would need would be a one or two-day course in order to qualify for the task.

Ramawela says ushers are also needed to direct travellers entering arrivals. “At the moment all they see is three queues: one for South Africans, one for travellers who require visas and one for those that don’t.” She says this is a problem for non-English speakers who may join the wrong queue. Ramawela says the TBCSA and SA Tourism are willing to finance this through the Welcome Campaign (an initiative that aims to create and sustain engagement with industry stakeholders).

The third measure is to improve the experience of travellers standing in queues by providing them with water and things to nibble on. However, she says these measures are subject to the approval of the DHA, NDT and other parties within and outside of government.

Spokesperson for the DHA, Mayihlome Tshwete, was unable to confirm whether it would be introducing any of these measures and says only that the Department is working with stakeholders to ensure more efficient facilitation of travellers at ports of entry.

For the long term the parties will have to find a solution to the ‘austerity’ employment procedures in government, which mean that the DHA cannot replace someone without a procedure verifying the job needs to be filled, says Ramawela.

(source: Tourism Update)

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