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July 8th, 2014 by

pretoria from the air 102633 1600x1200 - Does Pretoria need its own airport? 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 to share what changes they thought could be made to achieve this – see the round-up here. Additionally, News24 Travel reader Neil Davis responded with the following insight. "When looking at South African airports the number of international airports should be expanded greatly. Many smaller airports lost their international licenses in the late 90's.

Gauteng has two international airports, only one of which is capable of handling large freight and passenger aircraft. Lanseria should be expanded to accommodate these requirements. Pretoria has no international airports, it is one of the few capital cities in the world without an international airport. Waterkloof or Wonderboom airforce bases should be re-purposed and expanded for dual use (civilian and military use) (other examples around the world are Frankfurt airport, or Dallas-Fort Worth). A better inter-connection of transport needs to be established like with most European airports which are linked with railway systems. The Gautrain is great example of what should be the norm.

Cape Town airport should be connected via high speed rail to the city in one direction and to Somerset West/Stellenbosch in the other direction. The same N2 parallel route can also be used to relieve traffic on the overcrowded N2. Implementing a better method of processing people through immigration and security is a major requirement which will either require increased automation and/or increased staff. With threats becoming more sophisticated, it will be necessary for airports to ensure that they regularly update their systems to ensure people are kept safe and not inconvenienced. Facial recognition and bio-metrics can make this process faster and more efficient.

Implementing a true "open-skies" policy which will enable foreign operators to pick up passengers en-route to a final destination will increase competition in the market. Ultimately the government should be in the business of building airports, not running them or running airlines. You don't need to own what you can tax! Flight traffic into Africa should be a focus as the domestic and SADEC markets are those closest to home, with short flying times and huge potential in business. These are only some of the changes which could be implemented to improve the volume of tourism in South Africa for both local and international travelers as well as freight carriers."

This article was first published on News24: