The national Ministry of Transport has announced that it was reviewing its aviation policy to create a more flexible environment so as to meet the needs of the tourism industry -- particularly in the Western Cape.
Ms. Wrenelle Stander, recently appointed director-general of the transport ministry, briefed delegates to the two-day ACSA Airline Destination Workshop at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
The workshop was attended by about 300 leaders from the tourism, aviation, hotel, car-rental and related fields at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
Addressing concerns that the current booming Cape Town tourism market was being severely constrained by lack of available direct flights to Cape Town, the director-general said the first concern of the ministry was to "facilitate the aviation industry to be safe, efficient and meeting the needs of the tourism industry".
"The Department of Transport is aware that the current aviation policy is not flexible enough to cater to the often conflicting interests of promoting tourism to South Africa on the one hand, and protecting the national carrier on the other," said Stander.
"There is a clear need to respond more flexibly to the phenomenon of globalisation. The challenges presented by different interests within aviation have resulted in tensions surrounding the negotiation of bilateral agreements about air traffic rights.
"With our various strategic partners in the aviation industry, we are therefore reviewing our policy, and looking at whether the aviation regulatory environment is robust enough to accommodate all the competing interests: environmental issues, the long-term investment necessary in our airports, and whether the development of the tourism industry aligns with Government's policy of full participation by historically disadvantaged South Africans," explained Stander.
"We commit ourselves to making this strategic partnership work," she affirmed.
ACSA managing director, Ms. Monhla Hlahla said the rich tourism potential of South Africa was largely lying dormant. She applauded the vision of the Department of Transport saying the planned policy review gave hope fo r accelerated growth of the tourism industry.
"Managing aviation policy in a manner which accommodates each of the strategic objectives of safety, efficiency and meeting the needs of industry has to rise above the needs of vested interests. We at ACSA also have issues of consumer protection and creating shareholder value to bear in mind.
"At ACSA we too have to manage disparate interests. But we manage a group of airports and not a single airport. I believe our strategy -- of putting in place infrastructure with the objective of moving passengers smoothly throughout the Southern African Development Community -- is the best one for the country," said Hlahla.
"We are committed to facilitating the airline industry in South Africa remaining a sustainable one, and are prepared to work tirelessly towards that goal. If the model of this conference doesn't contribute towards that sustainability, we'll explore other models until we arrive at the appropriate solution," said Hlahla.
The Airlines Destination Workshop was sponsored by ACSA, Airlines Association of Southern Africa, Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa, The Office of the Premier of the Western Cape, The City of Cape Town, South African Tourism and Tourism Business Council of South Africa.
The purpose of the workshop is for all those involved in the tourism chain to discuss sustainable ways of offering an integrated service, while addressing the issues of seasonality and infrastructure capacity.
The workshop ended today, 26 September 2003. "We facilitated 803 (15 minutes) meetings between 32 airlines and 40 tour operators. Serious business development initiatives were discussed. The initial feedback has been v ery positive," said Mr. Siva Pillay, workshop facilitator and ACSA Group Executive: Business and Market Development.
Pillay, who is also chairman of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, added that delegates strongly requested a repeat of the workshop next year.
For more information, please contact:
Airports Company South Africa (ACSA)
Tel. +27 11-723 1520
Mobile. +27 82 781 8863
Fax. +27 11-453 9234