Legislation that seeks to prohibit anyone from driving after consuming alcohol could be viewed by the South African hospitality and events sector as an opportunity to add more value to guests and event attendees.
The National Road Traffic Amendment Bill was approved by Cabinet in March and proposes that no person may drive a vehicle while there is any concentration of alcohol in their bloodstream. At the moment, South African law allows for no more than 0.05g of alcohol per 100ml.
Helen Brewer, Director of The Mice Academy, says the Minister is probably on point with a zero limit. She points out that different metabolic rates mean that some people test above or below the current limit after consuming the same about of liquor.
CEO of the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI), Glenton De Kock, says it is not clear how the new legislation will affect SAACI members. “We may see that individual behaviour changes when attending functions. That may not affect the sale or consumption of alcohol due to ride share or designated drivers.
“As an association we will make inputs on the current legislation and identify potential areas that may have an economic impact on business events, but also input on how we need to enhance awareness and education on the societal effect drunk driving has on our community in South Africa,” says De Kock.
Helen says, with the MICE industry unlikely to return with gusto until next year, there is time for the corporate and association market to give some thought to compliance. She says while the onus has to be on the end-user, organisers can use diplomatic wording to suggest delegates make use of ride-hailing or shuttle services.
Likewise, Robyn Christie, consultant in the travel and hospitality industry, says there is an opportunity for event organisers and members of the hospitality industry to collaborate with ride-hailing services like Uber and Taxify to ensure safe passage for guests and delegates.
“When people leave your premises, is there a duty of care that you are bound by?” she asks. Christie says, given the high premiums South Africans pay for medical and car insurance, there is definitely space for these companies to incentivise compliance, for example with a limited number of free rides a month.
Ayanda Allie-Paine, spokesperson for the Ministry of Transport, told Tourism Update that the amendments were still open to public comment and Parliament would follow its usual processes of public consultation, be this through virtual or in-person stakeholder consultation.