Tourism Portfolio Committee: Committee Strategic Planning Workshop for 2010-2015 Day 2


21 July 2010
Chairperson: Mr D Gumede (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

On the second day of deliberations, the Committee received input from the South African Local Government Association and the Finance and Fiscal Commission and considered proposals on how tourism in South Africa could be strengthened and ways of capitalising on the legacy of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup.

The key proposals generated in the two-day workshop concerned the development of tourism opportunities in the rural areas of the country.  There needed to be a holistic approach to rural development and should be spread to areas other than the current major tourism provinces. Other proposals included improving signage to tourism sites and the involvement of all the stakeholders in developing opportunities in the heritage, cultural, medical and leisure tourism sectors.

Meeting report

The Chairperson opened the meeting and outlined the agenda for the second day of the Committee’s strategic planning session.  The key issues that arose from the previous day were identifying the actions the tourism fraternity should take to capitalise on the success of the 2010 FIFA World Cup; rural development and tourism enterprise development.  The potential of poorer communities had to be identified and an assessment of the undeveloped areas and industries that could be leased to entrepreneurs had to be undertaken.  Small, medium and micro enterprises (SMME’s) in the tourism industry needed more support.  Although the intentions of certain programmes were good, there were some instances where the funding provided was misdirected and did not reach the people the programmes were supposed to benefit. The micro-finance system developed by the Grameen Bank was an example of an alternative funding model for tourism development.

Mr Dirk Van Schalkwyk, Chief Operating Officer, Department of Tourism (DOT) said that the Department had a specific focus on rural development but the challenge was to make employment in the rural areas as enticing as employment in urban areas.

With regard to optimising the legacy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, all agreed that the event had been a success as far as marketing South Africa was concerned. The attention of the world was drawn to South Africa and it was essential that opportunities to encourage more visitors to the country were developed.  A key factor of the marketing strategy was raising the profile of tourism by giving the Minister and the Chairperson of the Committee more exposure on national television.

Education and tourism were key factors in the Committee’s strategy and the Members agreed that the Committee report recommend that tourism skills were included in the basic education curriculum.  One did not need a university degree to be in tourism. The Committee wanted to see that tourism education took place at other key events, such as the Cape Argus Cycle Tour.  The Committee noted the budgetary constraints imposed on the DOT but can assist by making use of Parliamentary resources to promote the activities of the Parliamentary Committees to the public.  Efforts had to be made to communicate the plans of the Committee, the Department and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) to the public.

The Committee agreed that the strategic plan should include specific proposals to capitalise on the various climate regions of the country and to ensure that all the provincial authorities and SALGA were conversant with the plans.

The Committee expressed its gratitude to the South African Police Services (SAPS) for the outstanding police work done during the World Cup to ensure the safety and security of visitors.  The challenge was to maintain the standard of policing that South Africa experienced during the World Cup. People felt safe during the event and the sense of safety and security had to be maintained.  South Africa had learned a lot from the World Cup experience and the Committee’s proposals needed to focus on effective policing and the security of visitors as this aspect was essential for the success of tourism in general.

In its report, the Committee would recommend that the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) reached the rural areas of the country as well.  Signage was a key priority and the road signs and directions to places of interest had to be improved. Road signs and signage to places of interest were the responsibility of provincial and local government authorities. There appear to be some delay with erecting signs to hotels and the Committee had to work with the provincial and local government entities to ensure that signs were uniform and placed to provide effective direction to tourism sites.  The best practices used in other countries could be considered.

The provision of effective tourism information was another key suggestion to improve tourism in South Africa.  The Department and SALGA had to develop a plan to improve information on tourism in the country.

The Committee was conscious of the cost implications of the plans and the budget of the Department required careful consideration.  The annual budget of the Department was small and 65% of the available funding went to South African Tourism. The Committee was responsible for approving the Department’s budget and needed to liaise with the National Treasury on the matter.  The Committee’s role was not limited to oversight and support had to be provided to the Department to carry out its mandate and achieve its objectives.

The overarching question for the debate is how do we build on the legacy of the world cup and create a better tourism sector for South Africa.

Ms M Njobe (COPE) requested clarity on what was meant by “traditional enterprises”.  She felt that South African cultural products should be authentic and sophisticated.  Most of the products on sale at markets were not made in South Africa but were made in other African countries.  She asked how more arts and crafts sold at markets could be made by South Africans.  An example was the bead work items made by Talking Beads, which were used to educate people on the symbolism of traditional bead work.  In this manner, the cultural heritage of South Africa was used as a marketing tool.  She suggested that all villages in the rural areas should be identified by signs.

The Chairperson remarked that traditional beer was a product that could be developed, provided that the correct health and safety standards were followed to ensure authenticity and sophistication.  The people who wanted to brew traditional beer were often unaware of the processes that had to be followed.

Ms J Maluleke (ANC) noted that the Governor of the Reserve Bank mentioned the Khula and Umsombuvo funds. She agreed that some of these funds have not been successful and suggested that the Committee reviewed the application of the funds and considered how they could be used to finance economically viable tourism projects.

Mr D Cohen, Specialist Economic Advisor, SALGA advised that obtaining signage for tourism hubs from the transport authorities was difficult for tourism operators.  This issue formed part of the larger customer service concerns as people often did not know which national, provincial or local authority had to be approached to get road signs erected.

The Chairperson said that there should be general criteria applicable for erecting road signs. The issue of red tape in the process should be addressed with all the key stakeholders.

Mr J Durand, Parliamentary Liaison Officer for the Ministry of Tourism requested that the media and public relations officers in Parliament were identified so that links with the Department’s communications officers could be established.

Members of the Committee asked the Department to submit proposals for Government funding for large scale tourism projects.  The Chairperson requested creative solutions that would advance large scale projects.

Ms M Ncube, Manager, Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) responded that the Committee should consider the allocation of the tourism budget and review whether or not the funds allocated were achieving the desired results. The FFC will review the budget to determine how equitable it was and whether the goals were achieved.  New funding models could be developed.

Mr Cohen supported the development of a new model and suggested that the Committee invited the public and other Governmental entities to submit ideas on how the legacy of the World Cup could be capitalised on.  He proposed that a summit to debate the issue would be beneficial to start the process.

Mr Durand remarked that Parliament had the power to change the budgets but the Committee needed to play a role in the formulation of the budgets. The key players in the tourism industry were mostly white and although there was a willingness to transform the tourism sector, the involvement of Government to a greater extent was required as the industry was largely self-regulated. A key factor of the Committee’s strategy had to be the involvement of stakeholders in the tourism industry in public/private partnerships. Hotels should link with local poor villages and lodges to create packages promoting tourism. Public/private partnerships were important but it was essential that affected Government Departments worked together to ensure that the roads and other services necessary for a successful tourism industry were in place.

The Chairperson agreed that partnerships were important but stressed that the Committee should look at practical ways of assisting smaller and disadvantaged provincial Governments in addition to the Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal provinces.

Mr Cohen said that there should be a willingness and desire to participate in the development of a local tourism industry from officials in municipalities.  These projects needed mentors, which could be Members of the Committee, officers from SALGA or consultants.

Mr van Schalkwyk wanted to encourage tourists to visit more of the less visible places. He noted that the Deputy Minister had stated that more tourism areas that were affordable for lower-income customers had to be developed. Certain facilities in other areas had the potential to generate as much income as attractions situated in Cape Town and Gauteng. He suggested that a “one goal” approach similar to the World Cup initiative was adopted where all the stakeholders worked towards achieving one specific goal before a stipulated deadline. The model used during the World Cup could be applied to make a difference in the areas of tourism.  A focused, targeted approach was required rather than a “shotgun” approach.

The Chairperson agreed with Mr van Schalkwyk’s suggestions and proposed that the World Cup models could be applied by the Committee.  Other models could be developed as well.  It was necessary to take into account what the market could accommodate when tourism industries were developed.  Tourism nodes had to deliver products that were required by the market and investment had to be sustainable.  There had to be a balance between maintaining the ecosystem and development.  In general, tourism sites and products must be developed that would be commercially viable and economically sustainable.

The key proposals generated during the two-day workshop included rural development.  A holistic approach to rural development had to be adopted and applied in other areas than the current major tourism provinces.

In terms of product development, the Committee agreed to leave what was working and to change what was not working. The Committee wanted to encourage the development of specific tourism markets.  Opportunities in the areas of heritage, cultural, medical and cruise tourism had to be identified and developed. The Department had identified cruise tourism for places with harbours but these harbours had to be upgraded to accommodate the larger cruise ships.

Mr Cohen noted that product development at local level was important.  SALGA had identified that municipalities needed more than one tourism product.  A cluster of products on offer would provide more variety to tourists and stimulate the market. The primary product could be a heritage site but it was necessary to take a holistic look at the development of the economy of the region with regard to commercial viability, the benefit to the local community and the transfer of skills. Tourism projects that catered for a wide variety of customers were generally more successful and experience in local economic development indicated the need for an integrated approach. Tourism activities needed to be planned ahead and varied so that the same product was not offered all the time.

The Chairperson asked if there were sufficient resources available for marketing and if different marketing strategies were necessary for rural areas.

Mr van Schalkwyk advised that the Department had a committee tasked with ensuring that tourism products in the rural areas were marketed by the provincial and national authorities where necessary. The Department had specific deliverables and adopted a particular approach when dealing with rural areas.  The approach included identifying the tourism opportunity in the first instance, followed by a scoping exercise and establishing a rural tourism committee representing the key stakeholders. Guidelines for home based bed and breakfast establishments were developed.  The Department compiled an annual report on rural tourism.  The Department would like to take responsibility for domestic marketing but would be guided by the Committee.

The Committee agreed to invite the tourism fraternity to participate in the creation of a shared vision and plan.  The Committee undertook work with the key stakeholders on improving signage for tourism sites.

The Chairperson asked for further details of the Department’s strategy to develop tourism in the Southern African Development region.

Mr van Schalkwyk advised that there were bilateral agreements in place, with specific focus on both the environment and tourism.  The memoranda of understanding were currently in the process of being divided. There was a plan of action in place to identify the next step forward.  Agreements with Brazil and India were being drawn up and the DOT was working closely with the Department of International Affairs. The Department planned to optimise the benefits from the Africa Festival, which allowed the SADC countries to market themselves. The Africa Festival was held during the World Cup. Regional tourism was one of the key priorities and was linked to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).  The Department engaged with other African states on a regular basis.

The Chairperson wanted to know if the DOT worked with other entities to investigate the high costs of flights.  High flight prices hampered regional tourism market growth, which could generate the most income. The routes to the rest of Africa could be improved to make South Africa more accessible for people from other African countries and vice versa.

Mr van Schalkwyk responded that the Department liaised with other Government Departments such as the Departments of Transport and Home Affairs on the issue of visas for people entering South Africa.  He agreed that the issue of the cost of air travel needed to be addressed with the airlines. 

The Committee suggested that the linking of luxury trains with smaller towns and rural areas were considered.

Mr van Schalkwyk advised that the Department had held discussions with Transnet but rail services operated on economies of scale and decisions on routes were based on the economic viability of the areas concerned.

The Committee was concerned that the small scale accommodation prepared for the World Cup was not used.  Members requested further clarity on the progress of the proposed tourism legislation to be introduced to Parliament.

Mr van Schalkwyk advised that the draft version of the new legislation have passed the Ministers stage.  He expected that the new legislation would be introduced to Parliament in January 2011.

In conclusion, the Chairperson urged members of the tourism cluster to consider how the different tourism markets could be incorporated into the broader South African experience of visitors to the country. He thanked the participants for their contribution to the formulation of the Committee’s strategic plan for the forthcoming medium-term period.

The meeting was adjourned.


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