*Unathi Sonwabile Henama has written this below opinion piece on why internet ride-sharing service Uber is becoming key to South Africa’s tourism industry.
Henama is a member of the Black Management Forum and teaches tourism at Tshwane University of Technology and writes in his personal capacity.
Uber will succeed, as it is demanded by customers because great service delivery is guaranteed with each ride.
It was disappointing to get news that Uber drivers in Sandton had been attacked on Friday.
An attack on Uber is an attack on tourism growth in South Africa, and an attack on tourism is an attack on the economy, that is the gaze that we as South Africans must have.
The majority of independent tourists that visit South Africa use Uber which is now a global brand, and accepted as an essential service if you seek to promote tourism at a destination.
Yes, the tourists love Uber and Uber loves the tourists, it’s a love relationship that the South African government must protect.
Uber is a smartphone-driver taxi service that is challenging the hegemony of the maxi taxi industry specifically, and the minibus taxi industry in general.
Wesbank has already jumped on the Uber bandwagon whilst Discovery Insure clients will get a 25% off Uber trips.
This innovation will soon be copied by the other car insurance companies as they seek to reduce road accidents especially for drinking and driving.
The night time economy (NTE) is big business in urban centres, which is basically nightlife enterprise that is entertainment-led and food and beverage-led. Uber also provides safe, cost effective and reliable transportation for students that may not afford the hefty prices of maxi taxis.
There is no doubt that Uber has improved urban connectivity in South Africa, in a country with a poor public transport system. Car rental companies have not escaped the wrath of Uber, as they need to urgently respond to the competition that Uber brings.
The beauty about Uber is that it places the customer at the centre of the taxi service, which allows the customer to review the experience that they get in the taxi service. This ensures that the Uber taxis consistently arrive on time, give exceptional services and a ‘wow’ service is guaranteed for the customer.
When an Uber driver’s performance is below the city’s average that driver has their service terminated. With Uber, the customer is King!
The system also allows the driver to rate the conduct of the Uber customers, which means that Uber encourages the customer to display the best possible behaviour. This is based on the understanding that the customer and the driver are both co-producers of their experience, so Uber has been able to achieve synergy between these ensuring that Uber drives give ‘wow’ service and the Uber customers are the best possible customers.
This reality, which is encrypted and blueprinted into each taxi service by Uber, is a plethora, whereas in the minibus industry and the meter taxi industry, there is evident paucity.
Uber has revolutionised how people travel not just overseas but in South Africa.
South Africa has a 27% unemployment rate, and pedestrian economic growth that will not exceed 1% in 2016, and the indignity of job losses in mining existing side by side with a high interest rate environment.
The times in South Africa are tough, and we must remove all the red tapes that will limit economic growth. Tourism, the ‘’new gold’’, can attract a record number of tourists that can transform the high rate of unemployment with labour intensive jobs from tourism, especially when considering that the decline in the rand makes destinations like South Africa more attractive for tourists with hard currencies such as dollars, euros and pounds.
Uber is an unstoppable Tsunami and Bloemfontein is the next city that will adopt Uber as I had written in an article published by Media24 titled Uber is coming…
Uber is now legal in South Africa as Cabinet has approved the National Land Transport Amendment Bill of 2015 that provides guidance on e-hailing transport services. The meter taxis must not curse the darkness when they have a candle, they must jump on the Uber bandwagon so that they benefit instead of developing foam around the mouth at the mere mention of the word Uber.
The widespread adoption of the smartphone means that Uber’s growth is unstoppable. Competition is only feared by the weak and that is the truth, and Professor Molefi Kete Asante always advises that ‘’the truth requires no defence, the truth is its own defence’’. The truth is that Uber is here to stay.