Transformation in the tourism sector: briefing by Southern African Tourism Services Association

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Meeting Summary

The Committee heard a briefing from the Southern African Tourism Services Association. The presentation focused on how the organisation came about, its membership list and how members benefited. The Association was committed to the transformation and sustainable development of the tourism industry. The Association signed a 2nd Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Tourism and TECSA. To this end, the Tourism Mentorship Programme was initiated, along with industry  and government partners, by the Association in 2003, and was constantly evolving to address the development needs of emerging businesses, through partnering emerging businesses with established businesses, with the aim of stimulating the ability of these emerging businesses to operate more efficiently, increase profitability and create sustainable jobs. Members pointed out that the presentation made by the Southern African Tourism Services Association that many of the invited stakeholders had failed to attend the meeting. They also asked about the high costs of BBBEE Certification and why the Department was not in attendance.

Meeting report

Briefing by Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA)

Mr Michael Tatalias CEO, SATSA, said that the organisation was founded in 1968, to enable incoming tour operators to have a voice in the industry. The first member directory was introduced in 1987, enabling members to achieve better international recognition in the market place. SATSA was a founder member of the Tourism Liaison Council in 1985. In 1988 SATSA, with the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (FEDHASA) and an association of South African Travelling Agents (ASATA) became a member of the Tourism Liaison Committee, advising the South African Tourism Board. A new look SATSA was introduced, along with a new logo in 1990. In 1991, SATSA launched the Tourism Update, to enhance the profile of its members overseas. This publication continued and was, published by Now Media.

In 1992, SATSA was recognised as the first multi-racial tourism organisation in South Africa. In 2003, SATSA launched the Tourism Tattler magazine, as a vehicle to inform and educate members and others in the industry on important industry issues. From 2005 this has been published in a joint partnership with SATIB Insurance Brokers. SATSA was a board member of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa. In 2007, SATSA introduced a Bonding Scheme with third party indemnity for all its members – a world first. All tour operators were insured against liquidation so that inbound tourist could be refunded in case of liquidation. In 2008, SATSA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Tourism Empowerment Council of South Africa. SATSA had championed the cause of small business among its newer members. SATSA now had more than 925 member companies in all sectors of tourism.

SATSA operated as a non-profit organisation, funded by the annual membership fees of its members, thus fulfilling the role of an independent voice for the tourism industry. SATSA represented both small business and principals in the private sector of tourism. These included airlines, coaches’ operators, tour operators, accommodation establishments, vehicle hire companies, attractions, conference organisers and related marketing organisations. SATSA was committed to the transformation and sustainable development of the tourism industry. SATSA, Government partners and the tourism industry players had established the Tourism Mentorship Programme in 2003 to address the development needs of the emerging businesses. This was done by partnering small enterprises with established businesses, with the aim of stimulating the ability of small businesses to operate efficiently, increase profitability and create sustainable jobs. One example was the SATSA Tour Operators Course for emerging Tour operators. The result of the 2006 Economic Impact survey of SATSA members showed that, SATSA Members contributed more than R5 billion to the national direct tourism revenue. The survey was based only on 58% of Members who had provided turnover information. SATSA Members provided more than 25 thousand permanent jobs, they have 33 947 beds in accommodation category and 17 969 seats in transport/ tour operator category.

The Chairperson said that the Committee had invited several stakeholders in the tourism industry for a briefing on transformation however most of them had failed to attend. He then asked the Committee for a way forward, as most of the things in the briefing had already been heard before.

Ms E Van Lingen (DA; Eastern Cape) suggested that SATSA should be given a chance to respond to questions. She as asked what the costs were associated with Travel Life.

Mr Tatalias replied that SATSA had been negotiating with Travel Life because costs were a concern. The Department was trying to assist small operators with BBBEE certification, and it cost about R66 000 to get certified.

Ms Van Lingen mentioned that BBBEE certification cost only R450 through the Department of Trade and Industry website.

Mr Tatalias explained that certification was supposed to be done by a verification agent and that cost a lot of money.

Mr K Sinclair (COPE; Northern Cape) said that he was surprised that the Department representative was not part of the meeting.

Mr Johan Durandt, Ministerial Liaison Officer, explained that Department was in a Lekgotla including the Minister; he had attended the meeting only to monitor what was happening.

The Chairperson said that transformation of the tourism industry was more than BBBEE Certification alone.

Mr Tatalias invited Members to forward any questions they might have in future to the SATSA Chairperson, Mr Mongezi Fandezo.

The Chairperson mentioned that the Committee preferred face to face interaction to email questions and answers. He then thanked Mr Tatalias for the briefing.

The meeting was adjourned.


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