Lengthy passport checks cost CT Airport R25m in duty-free shopping

Committee chairperson Beverley Schafer says they’ve heard from airport representatives that international visitors spend close to 2 hours moving through Home Affairs’ passport control.

FILE: A general view of Cape Town International Airport. Picture: @WesternCapeGov/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - Cape Town International Airport has reportedly lost R25 million in duty-free shopping due to international visitors having to go through lengthy passport checks.

This has emerged during a sitting of the Western Cape legislature’s standing committee on economic opportunities, tourism and agriculture on Wednesday.

Committee chairperson Beverley Schafer says they’ve heard from airport representatives that international visitors spend close to two hours moving through Home Affairs’ passport control, leading to less spending at duty-free shops.

“Cape Town International Airport further revealed that the number of immigration officers available for duty at the counter decreased from 82 to 68, despite 750,000 more inbound seats to the airport since 2015.”

Home Affairs Department’s Mayihlome Tshwete says if there are issues around too little time for visitors to shop this may be resolved by a more strategic look at scheduling flights.

Tshwete says the department also needs an increase in its capacity, like more immigration officers - as has been done at OR Tambo International Airport.

“What would be nice is if the tourism sector echoes the calls by the department to strengthen its capacity for the sake of improving travellers. So, Cape Town is doing relatively well, but it can be functioning a lot better if we have support from our tourism stakeholders, like the standing committee on economic opportunities, ensuring that we are properly capacitated.”

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)