Tourism Bill: briefing by the Deputy Minister & National Department of Tourism

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Meeting Summary

The National Department of Tourism briefed the Committee on the Tourism Bill. The Committee was initially provided with an overview of the legislative framework for tourism, the National Tourism Sector Strategy was also touched on and the aims, objectives and various processes in relation to the Tourism Bill were elaborated upon.

Thereafter specifics on the actual contents of the Bill were covered in relation to its chapters and the clauses contained in those chapters. Chapter 1 covered Interpretation and Objects of the Bill, Chapter 2 dealt with the National Tourism Sector Strategy, Norms and Standards and Codes of Good Practice, Chapter 3 covered the South African Tourism Board, Chapter 4 dealt with the Grading System, Chapter 5 covered Tourism Protection and the establishment of a Tourism Protector, Chapter 6 dealt with Tourist Guides, Chapter 7 covered general issues such as offences and penalties and regulations by the Minister.

The Chairperson encouraged members to ask questions of clarification. It was pointed out that the Bill seemed quiet on the role of local government on tourism even though most tourism activities took place at municipal level. Concerns were also raised that perhaps the Bill was another attempt by government to over regulate. Businesses in South Africa often complained about over regulation. Other issues raised were whether the Tourism Protector was duplicating the work of other protectors. It was asked what happened in the event that someone was unhappy with the decision of the Tourism Protector. Could the Minister overturn the decision of the Tourism Protector? The NDT understood the point made and said that if the Committee so wished an enabling clause could be included in the Bill.

A further concern raised was that municipalities, provinces and South African Tourism were all engaged in separate marketing activities abroad. South African Tourism assured members that the issue were being addressed and that work were being done to come up with a communication strategy for South Africa as a whole.
 

Meeting report

Briefing by the National Department of Tourism (NDT) on the Tourism Bill
The National Department of Tourism briefed the Committee on the Tourism Bill. The delegation included Ms Tokozile Xasa, Deputy Minister of Tourism, as well as Mr Dirk van Schalkwyk, Chief Operating Officer National Department of Tourism (NDT); Ms Mmamodonki Setswabe, Chief Director: Legal Services NDT; Mr Thulani Nzima Chief Executive Officer, South African Tourism; Ms Thembi Kunene, Chief Quality Assurance Officer, Tourism Grading Council of South Africa; Mr Victor Tharage, Deputy Director-General: Policy, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation, NDT; and Ms Petra van Niekerk, Parliamentary Liaison Officer.

Deputy Minister Xasa proceeded with the opening remarks. The Minister and Director-General of the Department of Tourism were accompanying the President on his visit to Russia and hence extended their apologies for not being able to attend the meeting. She would provide some context on the proposed Tourism Bill. The Bill replaced non legislative applications and provided a prerequisite to set rules for all in the sector. Prior to the proposed Bill, the Tourism Act of 1993 was applicable. The Act had been amended three times already with all amendments dealing with the issue of tourist guides. However, the Act still fell short on the management of the tourism sector. It was inflexible to respond to the changes in the sector. The White Paper of 1996 provided policy and guidelines for tourism as well as defining the role of key role players. The White Paper did set the tone for better developments in tourism but unfortunately had gaps. Government had emphasised the importance of tourism and the New Growth Path (NGP) had identified tourism as one of the drivers for the creation of jobs. A National Tourism Sector Strategy had also been developed in consultation with stakeholders. The NDT had embarked on the drafting of the Bill which would replace the Act of 1993. Promoting responsible tourism, the effective marketing of South Africa, quality tourism products, promoting growth in the sector and effective government relations were some of the aspects which the Bill aimed to achieve. The National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) had been approved in 2011 and would form part of the legislative framework for the management of the tourism sector. The Bill established a Conventions Bureau to elicit bids to host business event in South Africa. It also established the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa which would implement a grading system for establishments. The Bill further made provision for norms and standards for the development of tourism and for codes of good practice.

The Chairperson asked the NDT to proceed with specifics on the Bill as time was limited.

Mr van Schalkwyk said that he would skip some of the parts he would have covered given that the Deputy Minister’s overview had already covered those aspects. He nevertheless elaborated on some of the aspects raised by the Deputy Minister. He noted that consultation on the need to review the Tourism Act of 1993 and the scope of the review took place with the provinces – at both Ministerial Provincial Technical Committee (MIPTECH) and Ministerial Members of Executive Councils (MinMEC) level) – local municipalities and the private sector mainly represented by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa. The NDT presented the provisions of the Bill to MIPTECH and MinMEC and each clause was thoroughly discussed before the Bill was introduced into cabinet and parliament. More than 450 comments had been received on the Bill and all had been dealt with. The Draft Tourism Bill had been presented and negotiated in The National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) and its report supported the Bill. The Chief State Law Adviser certified the Bill in November 2012. The Tourism Bill was introduced in Parliament on the 4 December 2012. There was geographic representation in the composition of the South African Tourism Board. The National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS), the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Amendment Act and the BEE Tourism Charter addressed the issue of transformation. The NDT felt that perhaps transformation should not be duplicated in the Bill. The Bill, when it became an Act, would bind provinces subject to section 146 of the Constitution. Local government were responsible for local tourism in terms of Schedule 4 of the Constitution.

The Chairperson reminded the presenter that time was limited.

Ms Setswabe provided the Committee with a brief overview of the contents of the Bill by way of its chapters and clauses. She gave a brief explanation of each chapter and the clauses that it contained.  
Chapter 1 covered Interpretation and Objects of the Bill, Chapter 2 dealt with the National Tourism Sector Strategy, Norms and Standards and Codes of Good Practice, Chapter 3 covered the South African Tourism Board, Chapter 4 dealt with the Grading System, Chapter 5 covered Tourism Protection and the establishment of a Tourism Protector, Chapter 6 dealt with Tourist Guides, Chapter 7 covered general issues such as offences and penalties and regulations by the Minister.

Mr Gary Rhoda, Legal Advisor, State Law Adviser’s Office, stated that from a legal point of view there was nothing problematic on the Bill. He added that if members had any policy issues they should feel free to raise them.
 
Discussion
The Chairperson encouraged members to ask questions of clarification.

Mr K Sinclair (COPE, Northern Cape) said that the National Council of Provinces represented provincial interests. He pointed out that the Bill did not say anything about the role of local government in tourism.
This was surprising given that most tourism activities took place at municipal level. A distinction also needed to be made between district and local municipalities.

It seemed that the Bill was proposing a tourist guide registration process. It was a huge issue from a rural perspective as there were many guides in rural areas that did not have book knowledge but had a wealth of practical knowledge.

He was concerned that the Bill was another attempt by government to over regulate. Government had a tendency to over regulate and business was tiring of it.

Mr van Schalkwyk explained that in terms of the constitution tourism was a concurrent function between the three spheres of government – national, provincial and local government. The NDT could therefore not legislate at a local level. The South African Local Government Association had been part of the process on the Bill at MinMEC and MIPTECH level. 

Ms Setswabe stated that municipalities had invited the NDT for interactions before the NDT had gone to Cabinet. Current tourism legislation had been reviewed before the first draft of the Bill had been published for public comment. The Draft Bill was consulted over at the same time as consultations on the National Tourism Sector Strategy.

Mr Tharage said regarding local government the NDT had done a thorough policy review of implications that could arise. The NDT did not see a legislative gap in respect of tourism at local government level. No additional legislative requirements had been imposed upon local government. The question was about implementation. The NDT did build capacity at local government level in order for tourism to be implemented.

He agreed that local guides were knowledgeable about their areas. The emphasis was on proper training which could enhance the manner in which a guide conducted himself. The guide should be aware of what his conduct should be. Where there was potential to train people, people would be trained. There were areas that were hotspots where persons with indigenous knowledge could be trained.

Guides should also be trained in languages like German and Italian, for example. Existing knowledge was factored into training programmes.

Ms B Abrahams (DA, Gauteng), stated that the briefing had noted that the Bill had been through the NEDLAC process. Were there any issues of disagreement that had emerged from the process?

Mr van Schalkwyk said that the NEDLAC Report would be made available to members. At NEDLAC clause by clause discussions had taken place. Major discussions had taken place over the legislation of the capacity of tourist guides and their vehicles. Another point of discussion was the Minister’s role to assign responsibilities. The business sector had felt that there had to be compliance with the Public Finance Management Act.

The Chairperson suggested to the NDT that in future briefings to the Committee on legislation, the NDT should not include in its briefing what had been suggested by the National Assembly. A clean bill should be presented before the Committee; thereafter the NDT should do its own reconciling.

On the issue of tourist protection, he asked if the “Tourism Protector” was similar to other protectors like the Consumer Protector. He asked whether the issues contained in Chapters 5 and 6 of the Bill were labour issues. Why could normal processes not be used to deal with it? The issues could be dealt with by the Consumer Protector and if there was a criminal element it could be dealt with by the South African Police Services.

He asked whether the members of the South African Tourism Board were full time members. The Lotteries Board had part time members and they found it difficult to meet. Dedicated persons needed to be on the Board.

Reference was made to the second briefing document on page 3 speaking to Chapter 2 of the Bill, it “[authorised] the Minister to gather information”. The Chairperson found this ambiguous.  

He asked the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa whether universal access would be a prerequisite in order to get graded.

Mr van Schalkwyk said that the comments on the Tourism Protector were noted. The Tourism Protector was intended to deal with complaints. The NDT had service level agreements with the tourism industry.
From experience it could be seen that members of the South African Tourism Board were very committed. Four meetings were held annually. For the past eight years members of the Board had acted voluntarily without being remunerated. Experience and knowledge were essential.

Ms Setswabe explained that she had used the words, “gather information” to mean that the “Minister must collect information for the purposes of a database”.

Mr Tharage explained that it was important to note that the Tourism Protector was not a protector in the sense of a protector like the Consumer Protector. The Tourism Protector was to act as a facilitator. It would not conflict with the mandate of the Consumer Protector.

He added that the South African Tourism Board was doing well as there were a diverse mix of skills and competencies. Everyone on the Board brought in collective capabilities.

Ms Kunene noted that universal access was an additional service and not a prerequisite. The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa was limited on what it could do on universal access because the buildings in which establishments traded were already built and had not made provision for universal access. The problem was that in building regulations universal access was not well enforced. The issue of universal access was addressed by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa when doing grading. It was part of offering a quality service.

Mr Nzima said that the issue of universal access was covered adequately.

Ms E van Lingen (DA, Eastern Cape) asked Mr Rhoda whether the South African Local Government (SALGA) component had been addressed in the National Assembly, given the input made by SALGA on the Bill. 

She asked whether the Bill was to function at a national level. The concern was that the rogue tourism entities usually occurred at the local government level. Perhaps the Tourism Protector could sort out the entities. How were “baddies” in the tourism sector going to be sorted out? The concern was that good people in the industry were being regulated. She asked the NDT to offer guidance.

The Chairperson responded that the briefing had noted that consultation had taken place with municipalities.

Mr F Adams (ANC, Western Cape) said that the issue of universal access and building regulations had been raised by members and assurances were given that it would be addressed. He was surprised that Ms Kunene said that there were only so much that the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) could do on universal access.

The Chairperson responded that, as Ms Kunene had explained, it was difficult to address the issue of universal access as buildings were already built. The Committee needed to invite the Department of Public Works to discuss the issue of building regulations and universal access.

Mr Tharage said that government should work together on a policy framework over universal access. Government buildings were under the Department of Public Works, the issue of universal access however fell under the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities. The NDT tried to champion the cause of universal access. The NDT had specific programmes to rollout universal access aspects.

Ms van Lingen asked whether the Tourism Protector was to take over the functions of the TGCSA or would the Tourism Protector pass on matters to the TGCSA?

Mr Adams referred to clause 45 of the Bill and on the issue of the Tourism Protector asked where the enabling clause of the Minister was. What if someone was unhappy with the decision of the Tourism Protector? Could the Minister overturn the decision of the Tourism Protector?

Mr van Schalkwyk explained that the intention of the Tourism Protector was not to over regulate. He said that perhaps an enabling clause could be included in the Bill if the Committee so wished. 

Mr Sinclair said that a great deal of debate had already been engaged about how South Africa was promoted abroad. Cities also engaged in aggressive marketing abroad. For example, there was always competition between the cities of Durban and Cape Town overseas.

The Chairperson agreed that municipalities, provinces and South African Tourism marketed South Africa separately abroad. 

Mr van Schalkwyk emphasised that the Bill was enabling. South African Tourism had the task of marketing South Africa domestically and internationally. The issue of municipalities and provinces marketing themselves abroad independently was being addressed by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. There was good cooperation between provinces and South African Tourism on how best to market South Africa. He suggested that perhaps a provision could be added in regulations on the issue of marketing.

Mr Nzima said that South African Tourism had realised that there was the risk of duplication of marketing activities and hence met provincial entities to streamline roles and responsibilities when marketing abroad. South African Tourism would lead international marketing. Provinces could bring their products to exhibitions. Everyone would exhibit their products under the banner of South African Tourism. Provinces and cities would market themselves aggressively locally.

South African Tourism did not always have offices abroad. It sometimes shared office space with missions. Embassies were also onboard to market South Africa. South African Tourism had developed training manuals and workshops on marketing tourism.

Work was being done to come up with a communication strategy for South Africa as a whole. Regarding the communication strategy there needed to be a common understanding of the message and the context thereof.

The meeting were adjourned.
 

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