'Forget the zulu dancers Minister Hanekom'

2014-07-08 15:25
South African Science and Technology Minister Dereck Hanekom at the first Ministerial meeting of the Square Kilometre Array African-partner countries in Pretoria. (GCIS)

South African Science and Technology Minister Dereck Hanekom at the first Ministerial meeting of the Square Kilometre Array African-partner countries in Pretoria. (GCIS)

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Cape Town -  There is no doubt taking over a new ministerial portfolio cannot be easy and that newly appointed minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom has his work cut out for him.

Hanekom recently stated he'd like to transform SA's airports to make tourists feel welcome and safe - as a means to managing foreign perceptions of the country better.

We asked our readers what they thought needed to be improved at South Africa's airports.

Responses ranged from pulling rank on unruly taxi drivers to etiquette 101 for airport and customs staff. The newly instituted immigration rules got quite a few readers hot under the collar while a number of readers feel SA's airport are way better than its international counterparts.

Take a look and if you have anything to add email info@news24travel.com or come join our travel community! Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, hang out with us on Google+, snap away on Instagram and share your inspiration on Pinterest.

Also see: Does Pretoria need its own airport? 

Properly train immigration and customs staff 

Jean Allen - 
 First thing I would improve on is the Immigration staff and the way they handle visitors, my husband and I travel extensively all over the world and we are greeted on arrival by uniformed immigration and other staff and one feels the first welcome there!  Unfortunately SA airports, staff are arrogant, do not greet you and don't often have a uniform so one feels they are fill in staff? The same situation applies when you leave SA. First impressions last!

Keith Reddy - I fly frequently, ORT is up there with the best. If we had shorter queues at Immigration control and security checkpoints it would be better. 10 cubicles 2 Immigration employees serving 80 people – it’s not on. Zulu dancers? Nah mate there is enough cultural stuff plastered all over the airports. 

Walter Tgsa - And what about unfriendly and slow Immigration agents, and long queues? Especially if one has the audacity to arrive when they have morning tea breaks?

DrGonzoSA - The Zulu dancers can entertain people while they stand in the ridiculous queues at passport control. 1hr to get through yesterday, then the knock on effect of complete chaos at the baggage carousels.

Michael Mortimer - The passport control officers are disinterested and really not wanting to work!

Jacqui Daane Van Rensburg - If only he can get those unfriendly people behind the counters to
smile, that would already be an improvement.

Liz - The attitude of the people at CPT leaves a lot to be desired. They are not friendly, welcoming nor are they helpful. They need training in courtesy, regional knowledge and handling queries. Hey, they might even get a tip! Win-win situation.
Bev McGuinness - I hope this includes how many 'customs' counters are open when you need to go through immigration?

Richard Payne - He can start with the Passport Control Officials at the airports. They are the most unfriendly, miserable, un-welcoming people. They all seem to hate their jobs. Not at all welcoming to any tourist.

Also see: Overseas passenger too easily duped

Forget the Zulu Dancers Mr Minister… 

Rajendra Bhimma -  One of the most sought after conveniences  is Wi-Fi. Presently this is only available in the lounges.

Margaret Cox -
When I arrive at Madrid I don't need to see Flamenco dancers, or Morris dancers at Heathrow! Just efficiency and plenty of Information signs. 

Critically Honest -
Start by asking people what they find annoying now. Doing the cultural thing will just plain annoy people who have travelled for 11 hours and then stand around for 1-2 hours to get through the formalities and collect luggage. Then there are the toilets, even those at OR Tambo have a distinctive "bottom-end" smell about them! You need to educate and train anyone that is likely to come into contact with tourists.  

Tanya -
When I'm at an airport all I want is (abundant) ridiculously clean bathrooms, short passport control queues, half a smile from the person who stamps my passport and a taxi that's on time. OR Tambo is basically there. Leave the dancers mate. It's an airport, not a cultural festival. 

Cobus van der Walt -
Why only Zulu dancers, we have more tribes with good dancers! What about Volkspele! Bushmen etc. So many cultures and so many dancers. Zulu dancers can be at KwaZulu-Natal!  

Stuart Lidstone -
Rather than spend more money on foreign tourists how about we protect the domestic tourist? I would wager that the domestic tourist market is far larger than the foreign tourist market, so why not do more for the local than speed traps on the road Derek? 

Cobus van der Walt -
Irrespective of that Tourists do not know or read our papers or are interested in that type of news. They love to visit Cape Town with its diversity! I deal with foreign people a lot and they do not care about the crime. We only take them to places of interest. Table Mountain, Cape Point, V&A Waterfront, Winelands, Boulders Beach, Aguilla in Worcester,etc. They do NOT want to see shacks etc. Very few visit Robben Island due to the tour being long and boring and people on Robben Island all stand to gain cash remuneration from tourists. 

Ian Borradaile -
Start by opening new international destinations to and from King Shaka "International Airport". 

Danie Erasmus -
Minister, first transform the country from Socialism to Democracy and then try tourism improvement. What was called democracy in 1994, turned tribalism cum Socialism. 

Gregory Jaftha -
I work directly with tourists, mostly Chinese who make up 50% of visitors to the Western Cape, their main concern is the high crime rate in the country and not enough is made to keep tourists/tour guides and drivers safe

SA’s airports are doing okay...

Bomani Afrika - I know South Africa is bad. But try going through Dubai, it is even worse. Unfriendly Immigration staff takes on a whole new meaning, and of course if they see any Muslim in the queue, they bring them to the front.

Luyanda Biyela - The airports are just fine thank you very much. Sort out crime first.

Gary Goddard - I passed through Dubai to and from Johannesburg and they best SA airport staff hands down! As for moving Muslims to the front...plenty of them on the aircraft I was on and on the connected flight and everyone was treated the same...with respect. You sure it was Dubai......people I have spoken to find Dubai the best airport

Ed Gutsche – At least Hanekom is trying, or would you rather shoot him down for not trying?

Del Pearson - Walter Tgsa - Immigration officers in ALL countries suck. I have never found a bunch of people more arrogant and rude than Immigration Officers.

AliciaLouise - Cape Town Airport is perfect. Just had a Face Lift. We need nothing more thank you!  

Retief de Villiers - South African are already among the best in the world. Really! For example, USA airports are pathetic, with horrific long queues and bad service. I once waited 45 minutes for my luggage in Brussels airport. Our airports are really good and Zulu dancers are not the upgrade that is needed.

Rob Nelster - Unless you are in transit, visitors do not judge a country by its airports alone. Why does Hanekom not learn from "kortbroek" and ensure everything else out there is safe and appealing to our tourists. People do not visit Nigeria just because the airport is a safe haven.

Rowan Torr - A one stop system of profiling is essential when confronting a tourist. Customs, immigration and policing actions should be conducive to the job and not to the interest in the person or personality of the tourist. SACAA AVSEC does allow for dancers on the restricted parts of the airport provided that screened passengers do not mix with unscreened passengers.

Walter Tgsa - A few weeks ago in China, less than one minute in the queue for Immigration (and that took less than one minute), and luggage was there when I got to the luggage belt. Hong Kong (arrived by train) took a bit longer, like 5 minutes. Yes, US airports are miserable but one should not always compare with what's worse?

Let’s start with those new immigration rules…

Greg - Perceptions start from the minute you're forced to apply for some bovine excrement visa so your kids can travel with you.

Wade Andrew Mackintosh - Wait! First they implement new visa rules that are more than likely going to kill the tourism industry, but they still want to "upgrade" the airports for the tourists?! One hand doesn’t know what the other is doing!

Kris Hand - Given how expensive, time-consuming and difficult you're making it to visit South Africa for anyone with children, the state of the airport should hardly be a concern: if a traveller has already endured all the processes and costs to get to SA, they shan't be worried about not being greeted by Zulu dancing teams!!

Chris - Stop Home Affairs from introducing the ridiculous new visa requirements and children's travel arrangements. Child trafficking is carried out by professionals who don't follow the current rules. Why will the new requirements stop them anyway? South Africa depends on the millions of visitors to bring us foreign exchange and employ thousands of people. Now we have yet another bureaucratic official introducing brainless schemes - For What?

Andrew M - The first thing the Minister should be focusing on together with Home Affairs is a change of attitudes at immigration desks at OR Tambo and no doubt at all points of entry into the country. This not only for foreign tourists but that of returning citizens. Do not forget those that are exiting the country as it is the last contact with officialdom of SA.

Tackle the baggage theft problem

Wolf Pack Hunter - Start with patching up the runways and get rid of the baggage thieves.

Harold Hobson - A good place to start would be to get Baggage Handling to clean up their act. Apparently, baggage theft is rife and they don't know how to stop it.

PaasHaas - Fire the thieving baggage handlers and the union will ensure that you get dancers at the airport without even having to pay for them.

Pull some rank on unruly taxi drivers...

Aadil Munga - 
 I recently visited bangkok and as you leave the airport there is a queue for taxis, you tell the lady behind the counter where you need to go and she will in turn tell you how much it will be , this eliminates being ripped of by taxi drivers themselves . If we could implement something like this , I think It would benefit how safe tourists feel. 

Paul Coetzee - This works well overseas. Visitor arrives in arrivals hall and goes to the TAXI counter. He purchases a voucher at a set price to his chosen destination. Goes outside where the registered and accredited taxis are waiting. He gives the driver his voucher and off he goes. No Fuss, No intimidation. No extortion. No hassling at the entrance. Every honest person wins. 

BLUESILVER2012 - JHB International is a great airport, it's clean, cool and has loads to offer. If your biggest problem is taxi's, no surprise there then. Contract out to certain companies that must register vehicles and drivers. This is the only way you can control it. You can then also advertise on the inflight entertainment during the flight the routes and fairs but be sure the taxis are there on time as advertised 

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