National Department of Tourism on its 2013 Strategic Plan

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Meeting Summary

The National Department of Tourism briefed the Committee on its Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan. The Committee was given insight into the performance of the NDT via its four Programmes: Administration, Policy and Knowledge Services, International Tourism and Domestic Tourism. Each Programme’s strategic objectives, performance indicators, plans for the Medium Term Expenditure Framework cycle and allotted budget were provided.

Members gave practical examples in provinces where tourism projects had fallen by the wayside and the NDT was asked what it intended to do about them. Decisions needed to be made either to revitalise the projects or abandon them, if it made business sense. The Expanded Public Works Programme and its viability was questioned. Members questioned whether the jobs created by the Expanded Public Works Programme in the provinces were sustainable. The point was raised that the new Licensing of Businesses Draft Bill proposed by the Department of Trade and Industry could negatively affect tourism. Members asked what progress had been made on electronic visas and the NDT’s response was that it looked as if South Africa was not to go ahead with it. The shortage of interpreters for tourists was noted. The Department was asked to finalise Memoranda of Understanding, especially with South Africa’s neighbouring countries. The Committee requested a report on this from NDT.

Meeting report

National Department of Tourism Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan
The National Department of Tourism (NDT) briefed the Committee on its Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan. The NDT delegation comprised of Mr Dirk van Schalkwyk Chief Operating Officer, Ms Nomzamo Bhengu Chief Director Business Performance and Management, Ms Morongoe Ramphele Deputy Director General, Domestic Tourism Management, Mr Victor Tharage Deputy Director General, Policy, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation, Ms Aneme Malan Deputy Director General, International Tourism Management, Ms Lerato Matlakala Programme Manager: Social Responsibility Implementation (SRI), Ms Benedicta Mokgaladi Director,  Ms Sefakwane Ramothetha Deputy Director: Business Planning, Mr Thulani Sibeko Director: Programme Management, Mr Mguli Zipho Director: Business Performance and Risk Management and Ms Petra van Niekerk Parliamentary Liaison Officer.

Ms Ramphele informed the Committee that she would be standing in for the Director General of the NDT and would be wearing the mantle of Acting Director General. The Minister and the Director General were out of the country accompanying the President on his visit to Russia.

Ms Nomzamo Bhengu, Chief Director Business Performance and Management, stated that the Auditor-General had suggested that some of the NDT indicators needed strengthening. She provided a brief background on NDT’s legislative and policy mandate as well as tourism’s sector priorities was provided. The vision, mission and priorities of the NDT were also touched on as were its organisational risks.

Each of the NDT Programmes was elaborated upon by the Deputy Director General in charge of it.

Programme 1: Administration
Mr Dirk van Schalkwyk, Chief Operating Officer, said the purpose of this programme was to provide strategic leadership, centralised administration, and executive support and corporate services. One of the strategic objectives of the Programme was to have an effective organisational performance management system. The relevant performance indicator was to have a number of strategic documents developed and implemented. Hence for 2013/14, the four quarterly reports on the implementation of the Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan was to be developed.

Programme 2: Policy and Knowledge Services
Mr Victor Tharage, Deputy Director General: Policy, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation, said the programme’s purpose was to support sector policy development and evaluation, research and knowledge management and the promotion of transformation and responsible tourism. One of the strategic objectives identified was the monitoring and evaluation of tourism sector performance, strategies, policies and initiatives. A performance indicator was the development of the State of Tourism reports. For the financial year 2013/14 a 2012 State of Tourism Report was to be developed.

Programme 3: International Tourism
Ms Aneme Malan Deputy Director General, International Tourism Management, said the programme purpose was to provide strategic political and policy direction for the development of South Africa’s tourism potential throughout various regions of the world. A strategic objective was to provide international tourism market (country and/or region) analysis to inform strategic interventions. One of the performance indicators was the number of initiatives facilitated to reduce barriers to tourism growth per year. Hence for 2013/14, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Department of Home Affairs was to be implemented. The MOU covered the issue of visas.

Programme 4: Domestic Tourism
Ms Sefakwane Ramothetha, Deputy Director: Business Planning, said the programme purpose was to provide political, policy and strategic direction for the development and growth of sustainable domestic tourism throughout South Africa. A strategic objective was to implement tourism growth and development strategies in order to increase tourism’s contribution to inclusive economic growth. One of the performance indicators was the number of national tourism programmes activated from the approved Domestic Tourism Growth Strategy’s action plan. For 2013/14, a pilot budget holiday resort concept was being planned and a progress report on the Domestic Tourism Growth Strategy was also to be compiled.

NDT budget
Ms Mokgaladi concluded the briefing by providing the Committee with NDT’s budget figures. The total budget for 2013/14 was approximately R1.5bn. It was expected to increase to approximately R1.7bn and R1.9bn in 2014/15 and 2015/16 respectively. Members were also given a breakdown of allocations per Programme.

Mr B Mnguni (ANC, Free State) noted that South Africa seemed to have opportunities in agriculture, mining and tourism. The NDT spoke about regional relations with other African countries. He asked what the NDT’s strategy in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework to attract tourism was, especially from South Africa’s regional neighbours. What was the NDT’s relationship with universities to train and capacitate people? He pointed out that there was a lodge in his area that had been financed by the previous Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. It had now been standing dormant for four years. What was happening? There was also a tourism information centre where contractors had not been paid by the previous Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

Mr Dirk van Schalkwyk, Chief Operating Officer, said that he had met with Members of Executive Committees and had been informed that tourism was far outperforming mining and agriculture. 

Ms Matlakala responded that the guest house referred to had not been completed due to problems with a service provider. An alternative service provider was being considered to take over the project.

Ms B Abrahams (DA, Gauteng) referred to the NDT’s work skills plan and asked whether the NDT had internships. It was admirable that the NDT had “100% communication”. How did the NDT communicate to rural areas? She asked if information centres were linked and synchronised. Was cross border guiding linked? She asked if there were possibilities of fraud taking place with e-visas and if there was, what mechanisms did the NDT have in place to address the issue? How was social tourism marketed? On the 100 Further Education and Training Colleges mentioned in the briefing, how was the figure broken down amongst the provinces? She asked how the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) fitted in with the Department of Public Works. Were the jobs created sustainable?

Mr van Schalkwyk, speaking on the NDT’s work skills plan, said there were 22 interns. The NDT was supposed to spend 1% of its budget on training; in 2012 it had spent 3% of its budget on training. On the NDT’s communication plan, community media had been piloted. At the 2013 Tourism Indaba, radio stations had been present. Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) guided the NDT. The Department of Public Works was the custodian of the EPWP. The funds for the EPWP were in the budget of the NDT. The NDT concluded an agreement with the Department of Public Works on EPWP projects.

Ms E Van Lingen (DA, Eastern Cape) congratulated the NDT on a spectacular 2013 Tourism Indaba that had taken place the previous week. She asked that the NDT should provide the Committee with fact sheets on its indabas. She noted that Members had been unable to get flights and accommodation. She had a problem with municipalities sending councillors to indabas instead of sending tourism trade products. She referred to Personnel Development Management System (PDMS) and asked if there were system documents. She asked if the NDT was PDMSing the organisation and staff. She said that provincial tourism was a huge concern and asked if there was accountability. She noted that she had not seen any report on domestic tourism. She informed the Committee that her small business in the hospitality sector was eventually black economic empowerment (BEE) certified. It was felt that the new Licensing of Businesses Draft Bill proposed by the Department of Trade and Industry would affect tourism badly. Was there progress on the use of interns in tourism offices in smaller towns and villages? On ecotourism, national parks either fell under the control of SANParks or municipalities. In many instances municipalities did not maintain parks. Was there a resolution in place? On tour guides, she asked if it was the same system used at the Addo Game Park under SANParks. Electronic visas were an interesting concept but she did not wish there to be a scandal about it. Social tourism was a big thing but the problem was with accommodation for children who work in communities. She spoke about niche tourism and made specific reference to the Tsitsikamma National Park in Knysna where a great deal of products by suppliers were patented. However when contracts expired, the suppliers were asked to vacate premises.  New businesses could not sell the same products as there were patents attached to the products. Were there similar projects in other areas? She asked if the NDT was utilising the offices of South African Airways and missions abroad. On international tourism statistics, a distinction needed to be made between leisure tourism and business tourism. Statistics needed to be credible.

Mr van Schalkwyk pointed out that many of the questions asked by Members needed to be answered by South African Tourism. A fact sheet on indabas would be provided to the Committee in the future. On the issue of PDMS, he stated that officials of the NDT were assessed. On the Strategic Plan there were predetermined objectives. PDMS was purely related to the management of personnel in a department. He said that the NDT did look at protected areas from a tourism perspective. Enforcement was by way of the Protected Areas Act. Regarding the budget for office accommodation it was a normal principle of the Department of Public Works. The Department of Public Works paid the service provider and the NDT in turn paid the Department of Public Works. NDT also had some offices in the provinces to deal with social responsibility.

Ms Malan replied that she understood the security concerns associated with electronic visas. The NDT was currently researching the option of electronic visas and a decision on it was yet to be made. Australia had implemented electronic visas.

Mr Tharage said that he did not wish to respond to the Tsitsikamma issue as the matter was before the courts. There were contractual arrangements between the owners of the park and people who had concessions. He noted that the NDT had gone through a process with StatsSA and the tourism industry on awareness of statistics. Statistics would be slightly different at business and national level. The issue was more about information regarding individual businesses.  There was a continuous process to improve information. On tourist guides at the Addo Game Park, there were two types of guides. The first type was employed by operators and the second type was freelance. People needed to understand what the requirements were to become guides. He was not sure whether Ms Van Lingen’s establishment had revenue of less than R2.5m.

Ms Van Lingen confirmed that it was a small establishment.

Mr Tharage explained that for small establishments with revenue less than R2.5m exemptions would apply with regards to BEE. An auditor’s letters was good enough to qualify for the exemption. He asked if the new Licensing of Businesses Draft Bill was already in Parliament.

The Chairperson said that the draft bill was still coming to Parliament.

Mr Tharage responded that the NDT would discuss the bill with DTI. He noted that social tourism was more about affordable tourism rather than free tourism to those who were underprivileged. 

The Chairperson pointed out that some days ago he had visited a village near Kokstad. It was in the middle of nowhere and was a national project but unfortunately it was not working. He suggested that perhaps such projects should be disposed of, if it made business sense. He noted that en route to Lesotho there were areas in need of assistance to revitalise tourism. Lesotho and Mozambique were important tourist attractions. He asked if investigations on outstanding reports had been finalised. The shortage in interpreters for tourists was a huge problem. Could the NDT not initiate a special project on this? There were Memoranda of Understanding that had not been honoured by South Africa. He asked the NDT to provide the Committee with a report on this. He emphasised that the Committee wished to be involved in international forums. Did the NDT budget speak to the priorities of municipalities? How did the NDT assist municipalities? He had attended a Marula festival in February 2013 but had not seen the NDT present. Was there value for money for Social Responsibility Implementation (SRI) programmes? Was there a way forward? He asked what the NDT was doing to attract people to South Africa. The growth in tourism had to be maintained.

Ms Malan noted that there were Memorandums of Understanding with countries like Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Mozambique. Many of the MOUs related to South Africa assisting them with capacity building. There were also projects with the respective countries. On language training and interpreters, the NDT was looking at identifying opportunities. People needed to be selected for training. On attracting tourists to South Africa, it was more South African Tourism’s domain. South Africa was authentic and there was warmth about its people. She emphasised that the NDT had identified priority MOUs which would be honoured. A report on MOUs would be forwarded to the Committee.

Ms Ramphele referred to the absence of the NDT at the Marula festival and said that the NDT did not support the festival in 2013 but would do so in 2014. A Marula route could be worked out between Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal provinces. Four cases had been investigated, at present one was going to court. The NDT had done an audit on all SRI projects. Meetings had been held to decide on the way forward. There were some projects where the NDT could cut its losses on. The audit also looked at the utilisation of parks. 

Mr van Schalkwyk said that the NDT’s support at festivals was to provide skills and resources, it was not necessarily funding. Regarding the budgets of municipalities, provinces and municipalities received funding from the equitable share. National Treasury had approved a new budget structure for provinces.

Mr Tharage said that the NDT did plan for increases in tourist arrivals. The NDT’s blueprint was the National Tourism Sector Strategy which had been approved by Cabinet. The NDT had plans, implemented them and thereafter reviewed them. The NDT worked closely with Brand SA, South African Tourism, the South African Local Government Association and the provinces. On cross border issues, there were different Acts applicable to different border countries. The laws could not be changed but the NDT could look at how it could integrate. On guides, cross border co-operation was important for harmonisation. He doubted very much that the electronic visa would be adopted by South Africa. The NDT had to take a tourism position in terms of what it wanted.

Ms Matlakala, referring to SRI projects, said that the focus was on value for money and return on investment. The NDT had met with the Department of Public Works and National Treasury to have the conditions attached to funding relaxed in order for projects to offer value for money.

Mr M Maine (ANC, North West) asked if the NDT was funding the North West Cultural Calabash.

Ms Ramphele, on the issue of the Cultural Calabash, said that most of the items covered in the Strategic Plan came from the provinces. The NDT met with provinces and decided on what needed to be done.

Ms Van Lingen asked why South African Tourism was not present at the meeting. How was the NDT managing damage control about the negative image that the world had of South Africa? She was aware that the electronic visa was more in the realm of the Department of Home Affairs.

Ms Abrahams asked what criteria were used for social tourism.

Ms Ramphele responded that the NDT had been surprised by the outcome of a study which showed that the man in the street actually did travel. However there were those who did not travel because they did not know where to go. Hence the NDT had a project for setting up a budget resort for the poor person.

The meeting was adjourned. 


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