Boat-based whale watching and White shark cage-diving activities will continue as usual after a decision to extend for a year the current permits, which were due to expire shortly. The development follows engagement between Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom and the Department of Environmental Affairs after he apparently read about the issue on Tourism Update.
The industry recently expressed concern that the department had not put in place an application process for new permit allocations.
Evelyn Peper, Chairperson of the South African Boat Based Whale Watching Association, toldTourism Update that the action from the Minister ensured that operators would be permitted and able to carry out their activities. She added that he was alerted to the situation after he read Tourism Update and that he took action immediately.
Peper said that the morning after the Minister’s engagement, operators received notification that a one-year extension would be granted for the permits. “We will all be in possession of valid permits due to the breakthrough,” she said.
However, while Peper welcomed the development, she emphasised that the extension was only a short-term solution to the problem. She said the industry would like permits to be issued for a 10-year period to provide businesses with the ability to plan and to offer sound employment.
Department of Environmental Affairs Spokesperson, Zolile Nqayi, confirmed on Friday that the permits for boat-based whale watching and White shark cage-diving activities would be extended for a year.