By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier

In an incident of international embarrassment, the Crown Prince of Denmark was initially denied entry to a Brisbane bar last week, when he was unable to produce ID to be scanned.

Prince Frederik and his entourage arrived at the Jade Buddha at 11:20pm, but were turned away in compliance with Queensland’s new mandatory ID scanning regulations, that must be enforced after 10pm. Later, members of Queensland Police’s Dignitary Protection Unit persuaded Buddha Bar’s operator Phil Hogan, that they had approval from the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) to allow the royal into the establishment.

After the news of the incident was published throughout Australia and internationally, Queensland’s Police Commissioner, Ian Stewart, denied that Prince Frederik was turned away from the bar, but CCTV has proved otherwise and Hogan is calling on the commissioner to apologise.

Mandatory ID scanning and international tourists

The incident highlights a larger problem with the mandatory ID scanning rules, as the scanners were not set up to accommodate foreign ID cards. With tourism being a significant part of Queensland’s economy, venue operators that were already wary of the impact of the mandatory ID scanning regulations are now seeing it affect their ability to allow foreigners to enter their premises.

“The machine still has problems recognising the info on their licenses and the info has to be manually entered to the system. This takes time and delays entry, and that in turn affects the flow of patrons so our queues get longer and longer – we make nothing on the footpath. Scantek, the company we use have informed us since day one that they have an IT Technician addressing this issue but to date we are still experiencing problems,” states Emmanuel Bogiatzis, owner of Heritage Exchange in Townsville.

After an extensive email to OLGR listing the issues with the scanners, the affects it was having on the business and how it puts some venues at a disadvantage, Bogiatzis received a two-line response from OLGR stating that his points were noted and would be passed on.

In response to an enquiry from Australian Hotelier, a spokesperson from OLGR released the following statement:

“The Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) is aware of some problems with scanning foreign driver licences.

“ID scanners rely on templates in order to successfully scan different forms of ID. Due to the large number of different foreign driver licences that exist internationally and the constantly changing nature of these, it is difficult to cater for every single licence.

“OLGR has been working with approved ID scanner operators who are continuing to add new foreign driver licence templates as they become available.

“If a foreign driver licence or any other acceptable identification is not recognised by an ID scanner, crowd controllers can manually enter the person’s name and date of birth into the scanning device for the check to be performed.

“Licensees are encouraged to provide feedback to approved ID scanner operators about acceptable forms of identification that are not recognised by an ID scanner, to assist the approved operators in continuing to enhance their systems.”

Lost revenue

Director of NQ Hospitality Group, Mark Napier, has seen firsthand the adverse affects of having to manually enter ID details into the scanners.

“The experience thus far by licensed venues is that our patronage is not happy with the delay of entering the venues.Vvenues have experienced fights in the lines, some venues have had to start charging a door charge to offset the increased operational costs and lost revenue over the bars. They’ve also have had to reduce and put off staff within venues as trade is not there as the patrons are outside! One venue has operated its door with two staff and are now having to operate with eight staff as they have needed to get more ID Scanners in to get people in the doors quicker as their venue has not reached capacity since the introduction of ID Scanning.”

Bogiatzis says his venue is already feeling the impact of mandatory ID scanning.

“We noticed a real decline in revenue for the first month since their introduction in July. We started with one scanner and after three weeks have installed another. With annual rental of the machines approximately $10,000 a year, the $4000+GST Government funding really doesn’t go far at all.

“This is only a drop in the ocean as it’s really the extra staffing/security costs that are killing us. We’ve gone from one security guard on the door to four staff and at a cost of $40-$45hr and the additional security required mid week after 10pm, our wages have increased by about $1500 per week.”

Hogan says another problem that has been overlooked is that many older tourists don’t carry identification at all.

“Half of them just don’t show up with ID because they think it’s like any normal country where if you’re obviously 30, 40-years old with a beard you don’t expect to be hit up for ID. So we’ve all been turning people away. Everyone hears about the Prince of Denmark because he’s newsworthy. What you don’t hear about are the thousands of others that we have to turn away.”

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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