Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) loses millions in retail revenue due to slow processing at Home Affairs’ passport control.
Airport authorities told the Standing Committee on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture in Parliament that it loses R25m (€1.7m) in duty-free shopping because international visitors are spending close to two hours moving through Home Affairs’ passport control.
Tourism Update reports the number of immigration officers available for duty at the counters decreased from 82 to 68, despite 750,000 more inbound flight seats to the airport since 2015.
It was further revealed by Wesgro (the Western Cape marketing agency) that CTIA experienced a 20% growth in international terminal passengers, succeeding the world average of 8%. According to Democratic Alliance (DA) Western Cape Spokesperson on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture and a Member of Parliament, Beverley Schäfer, the average waiting time for inbound international passengers at passport control at CTIA currently sits at 27 minutes and 38 seconds, far above the international best practice average of 10 minute. The average waiting time for outbound international passengers at passport control is currently 12 minutes and 6 seconds, once again above the international best practice average of five minutes.
Currently, during peak hours, the Department of Home Affairs only opens five counters out of the available 18 to process, on average, 35 000 passengers per day, causing a bottleneck at passport control which causes delays for passengers and cripples airport activity, says Schäfer.
CTIA is often the first point of entry for international visitors, furthermore, it is also the first experience that travellers have of Cape Town and South Africa at large. “Passenger congestion and severe delays dissuade visitors from returning to our shores,” adds Schäfer, continuing: “The knock-on effect of passenger delays is that the airport’s duty-free shopping experience is largely neglected as prospective shoppers are held up in queues, and unable to purchase goods before their flights. This kills economic activity and threatens thousands of jobs in the Western Cape.”
Schäfer will be writing to the Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Tourism, and Agriculture, Alan Winde, to engage with National Treasury over concerns surrounding the diminishing number of Home Affairs officials employed at the CTIA when the growth of Cape Town Air Access is expected to secure 150 000 more international inbound seats from three new flight routes in 2018 alone.