The National Department of Tourism (NDT) briefed the Committee on its Bi-Annual Report for the last six months, 1 April 2013-30 September 2013. No changes to key performance indicators and targets had been made. It was the same as was reflected in the NDT’s Annual Report and Strategic Plan.
The Committee was given specifics on targets set under specific programmes of the NDT.
Members were concerned about the vacancy rate, staff turnover and the lack of a staff retention policy by the National Department of Tourism. It also came to light that tourism offices that were the first point of contact for tourists were in a dismal state. Questions were raised about the progress made on the Tourism Complaints Directorate and an airlift strategy. In as much as the Committee appreciated the breakdown of figures on targets, members wished to have greater detail. Members had identified problems with Expanded Public Works Programmes and wished to know what progress the NDT had made to address those problems.
The Committee deliberated briefly on its Fourth Term Programme, which was drawing to a close. It was noted that the Tourism Bill could still be sent back to the Committee to approve suggested amendments from the National Council of Provinces.
National Department of Tourism Presentation
The National Department of Tourism (NDT) briefed the Committee on its Bi-Annual Report for the last six months, 1 April 2013 - 30 September 2013. The delegation comprised of Mr Dirk van Schalkwyk - Acting Director-General, Ms Lerato Matlakala - Acting Deputy Director-General: Domestic Tourism Management, Ms Bulelwa Seti - Acting Deputy Director-General: International Tourism Management, Mr Bernhard Meyer - Acting Deputy Director-General: Policy and Knowledge Systems and, Mrs Nomzamo Bhengu - Chief Director: Governance Support.
Mr van Schalkwyk said that there were no changes to key performance indicators and targets. It was the same as was reflected in the NDT’s Annual Report and Strategic Plan.
Programme 1: Administration
Mr van Schalkwyk provided a brief breakdown of the progress on targets. He noted that at mid term, 43% of targets had been achieved, 5% had made significant progress and 2% had not been achieved. However, he pointed out that the NDT was falling short on its vacancy rate targets. It was currently at a vacancy rate of 11%. The NDT had lost 80 officials. 4% had moved to other departments. The NDT did not have a staff retention programme.
Programme 2: Policy and Knowledge Services
Mr Meyer spoke to the performance of the NDT under the Programme. As Mr van Schalkwyk did before him, he highlighted where perhaps the NDT fell short on its targets. The NDT had aimed to host a National Tourism Sector Strategy Delivery Forum on the 17 September 2013 but it did not happen due to clashes with the 2013 Tourism Summit. The Forum did however take place on the 9 October 2013. A Tourism Leadership Dialogue scheduled for the end of September 2013 could also not take place because the steering committee members from the private sector and the NDT were unable to be present. The Tourism Leadership Dialogue did however take place in October 2013.
Programme 3: International Tourism Management
Ms Seti stated that 42 missions were targeted for support to institutionalise tourism. However by the end of September 2013 only 39 missions had been supported. The remainder of the targets would be supported in quarter three. The NDT had also set a target of having a Strategy Framework for NDT’s participation in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS). However, due to delays in stakeholder engagements only a draft framework was in place by the end of September 2013. By quarter 3 the framework would be complete.
Programme 4: Domestic Tourism Management
Ms Matlakala listed the achievements of the Programme. A Draft Report on the progress on the implementation of Domestic Tourism Growth Strategy had been completed. A workshop on Social Tourism had also been hosted. A Maloti Drakensberg Route Working Group Meeting had been convened in September 2013. Four Educator seminars had also been successfully held. A Domestic Tourism Implementation Plan had furthermore been completed.
Ms F Mohamed (ANC) pointed out that the NDT had not achieved some of its targets. How did it intend to achieve these targets? She was also concerned about the NDT’s vacancy rate and its staff turnover. What did it intend to do about it? She had on oversight visits visited tourism offices in central business districts only to find that staff were not clued up or qualified to man those offices. She had experienced this first hand. It was good and well that Registrars had been given a workshop on capacity, but the issue was about implementation.
The NDT was involved with SA missions abroad, the question was about how the NDT measured the success of the missions’ work and how it impacted upon tourism.
The Chairperson asked Ms Mohamed which tourism offices she had visited.
Ms Mohamed responded that she had visited tourism offices in the Pretoria central business district. She believed that tourism offices needed to be presentable.
Mr van Schalkwyk explained that the tourism offices were a concurrent function between the three spheres of government. Policies were set at national level. The Tourism Bill had set minimum standards that tourism offices had to comply with.
Mr S Farrow (DA) agreed with Ms Mohamed that a tourist’s first point of contact needed to be jacked up. How did the NDT come up with its half yearly reports? Was yearly targets simply divided by 50%? If all targets were met within the first six months what was the NDT to do for the next six months. Targets needed to be realistic. He asked whether the targets of the NDT were adjusted half-year figures or full year figures.
Mr Meyer reiterated that visitor information centres were a concurrent function. The NDT assisted visitor information centres at local and provincial level. There was a consistent brand initiative. Uniformity of branding was needed. A training programme for visitor information centre staff had been developed. There were 216 visitor information centres. The NDT was making attempts to register them.
Ms Bhengu responded that the only annual targets that had been presented to the Committee in the present briefing were Tourism Enterprise Partnership (TEP) targets in Programme 4. The briefing covered targets as at the end of the second quarter.
Mr Farrow continued that the Tourism Bill had made provision for a directorate in the NDT to be set up to deal with tourist complaints. What has the progress been to date? Perhaps it was too much of a burden for a NDT official to handle. Even though the briefing spoke about 100% of targets being dealt with what was the actual numbers of complaints that had been received.
How did the NDT intend to achieve its targeted vacancy rate? He asked what the NDT had in relation to risk management processes. He was concerned that the NDT had at one point in time lost data. He was glad that the NDT had a draft framework in place regarding regulations pertaining to tourist guides. Implementation was however where the challenge lied.
Mr Farrow noted that the Department of Transport had informed the Committee that they were supposed to have signed off on an airlift strategy with the NDT in March 2011. There had however been delays. Where was the process at present? He asked why the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) Forums had not been hosted when it was supposed to. The Committee had to be given a progress report.
Mr van Schalkwyk said that the NDT had created a Director post to deal with tourism complaints. The NDT had not yet found a suitable candidate. The Unit had already been set up within the NDT. The NDT via the Department of Trade and Industry had set up a service level agreement with the Consumer Protectors Office. There were also service level agreements with local government and other stakeholders. Quite a number of complaints were received on a regular basis. He conceded that data had been lost at one point but it had been recovered. A duplicate system had since been set up to archive data.
He added that there had been an airlift strategy that had been signed by Cabinet but it had since expired. The NDT supported an airlift strategy. The Department of Transport was supposed to submit an airlift strategy to Cabinet but it had not been done as yet. The NDT did not drive the process.
Mr Meyer on tourist guides said that Registrars had been elevated to Deputy Director-General level. The regulations framework was in preparation for regulations to be developed for the Tourism Bill. The regulations required consultations with all stakeholders. The review of tourist guide training was also taking place.
The NTSS forum had not taken place on the 17 September 2013 but had to be rescheduled. On implementation biannual meetings with industry was taking place and quarterly meetings was taking place with NTSS clusters.
Ms M Njobe (COPE) was also concerned about the NDT’s vacancies. The Director General of Tourism had in past meetings stated that it was difficult to find the right persons for the right job. There was a great deal of competition amongst government departments themselves for available skills. She said that there were thousands of graduates out there who were looking for jobs but simply did not have experience. How were they to get experience if no one gave them a chance? It was something to be considered. She pointed out that some of the slides were very vague and did not give specifics. Slide 15 spoke about consultations having been undertaken with provinces. It was vague. What exactly had been the progress made? Slide 19 spoke about the NDT supporting missions. Was it making any difference? What was meant by “social tourism” in slide 20? She noted that the NDT was lagging behind on achieving its job creation targets by 2020. If the NDT knew that it would not be able to meet its targets then perhaps targets needed to be changed. Budget expenditure on domestic tourism sat at 39%. Was the figure not too low?
Mr van Schalkwyk replied that two years ago the President had announced that vacancy rates should be 12%. He noted that the NDT had stretched targets. The target that the NDT had given itself was 8%. The target set for disabled persons numbers for the NDT was set at 2%, what was actually wished to be achieved was 4%.
He said that to do a job description could take up to 2-3 weeks. Posts had to be advertised for a minimum of 14 days. For lower level jobs there could be between 1000-5000 applicants. A panel had to be set up to deal with it. Security clearances could take from 3 weeks to 6 months. However the NDT after having had meetings with the National Intelligence Agency had brought that time period down to 3 weeks.
Mr van Schalkwyk noted that there were departments that had staff retention policies and when an official announced that he was leaving they would up his current salary. He said that the problem with this was that the official could be blocking a post that could have been filled by someone else.
The NDT had vacancies in its legal department. On level 5, eight years of experience was needed. Salary scales ranged from minimum to maximum. Often applicants would negotiate to be paid the higher salary. It was a challenging area. Challenges were most common at management and middle management level. At lower levels there were no problems.
He noted that the NDT needed five years to recap on where they were on targets. The Tourism Bill allowed for the re-evaluation of the NTSS. The National Development Plan spoke to the NTSS.
Mr van Schalkwyk said that 39% of the budget referred to was where payments had to be made to the TEP and the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP). Funds only flowed where processes were complete.
He conceded that more details could be provided to the Committee. The evidence was there.
Ms Seti said that there were 126 missions abroad. In the business plans of missions it was their responsibility to market SA. The NDT assisted with building the capacity of missions and participated in an economic diplomacy programme. Tourism was part of the programme. The NDT had embarked on a tourism business-planning model.
Mr Meyer pointed out tour guide inspections had taken place on the 12 and 13 September 2013. Inspections were done in collaboration with road agencies. The NDT had no such mandate and had no enforcement powers.
Ms V Bam-Mugwanya (ANC) was also concerned about the NDT’s high staff turnover. Did the NDT have a staff retention programme in place? She asked what exactly was the agreement with New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) on the Tourism Action Plan. She also asked what social tourism was. She noted that it seemed that the working hours for the EPWP were decreasing. What was being done to improve the situation?
Mr van Schalkwyk said that the NDT together with the Industrial Development Corporation had coined the concept of social tourism. It was tourism that was aimed at lower to middle income earners. He was along the lines of the old Aventura Resorts during Apartheid. The idea was for people of all backgrounds to travel.
He said that the intention behind the EPWP was job creation. Challenges were that the Director – General of the NDT remained accountable for funds that were released for projects. Another challenge was that the EPWP also had procurement processes attached to it. The ratio was that 35% of EPWP project budgets were earmarked for jobs. It was difficult, as funds were sometimes needed for materials.
Ms Seti pointed out that African countries had developed the NEPAD Action Plan in 2004 but it had never been implemented. African Tourism Ministers’ were supposed to consider the plan. The idea was to implement the plan and to ascertain where the African continent was regarding the plan. Countries that did not have a tourism master plan had to be focussed on.
Ms Bam-Mugwanya asked if the NEPAD Action Plan had been developed in 2004 and if it was still relevant.
Ms Seti said that there was still relevance. Whatever had happened had happened by default.
Ms Matlakala referring to the EPWP said that projects created short-term employment opportunities. Once projects were operational there were more sustainable job opportunities. The focus of the EPWP had been on short-term employment. There was a need to ensure that people were productively employed. The NDT ensured that projects that were funded needed to be viable.
Mr L Khorai (ANC) said that President Zuma had in his State of the Nation Address stated that vacancies in government departments should be filled and should be an issue of the past. Was the Minister of Tourism going to account to the President why the NDT‘s vacancies had not been filled? The problem in government was that officials moved from one department to the next. Slide 23 spoke about the Maloti Drakensberg road. How far was progress on the road?
On Further Education and Training graduates, why were Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) not completed? A Draft Strategy Framework for NDT participation in Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA (BRICS) had been developed but no particulars had been given in the briefing.
Mr van Schalkwyk answered that the NDT had 37 interns who were taken on for a period of one year. Training took place at the lower levels where they were accommodated.
He noted that the Maloti road issue was a concurrent function. Roads did not fall within the work of the NDT. Roads fell under the Department of Transport. The Maloti Project was a joint venture between the Departments of Transport, Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
The Chairperson asked what work had been done by the NDT on visitor information centres. He noted that universities had done research on the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS). Had the NDT interacted with these universities? On EPWP projects the Committee had identified problems and was expecting responses from the NDT, what progress had been made? The idea behind the EPWP was to create jobs in rural areas. The Financial Fiscal Commission (FFC) had informed the Committee that the amount of jobs created by the NDT would be less than the National Development Plan and the NTSS. Did the NDT interact with the FFC?
Mr van Schalkwyk was not sure whether the NDT had interacted with the FFC. Mr Meyer on university research said that studies had been published and presented abroad. Many of the studies done were internally done by the NDT.
Mr Farrow pointed out that huge targets had been set for the EPWP. What were needed were sustainable jobs and the continuation of projects. If criteria were not met then projects should rather not go ahead. There were already 16 projects under forensic investigation.
He said that as a young man he had received a grant to study and had to work for the company that had given him the grant for 3 years. He would have liked to see such initiatives by the NDT in recruiting people. It would give graduates direction. He raised the issue of transfer of funds from DTI to NDT. There were; however, also Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) that did tourism activities funded by DTI. The issue was how the SMMEs were going to pay the funds back.
The Chairperson said that due to time constraints responses from the NDT could be forwarded to the Committee. The NDT could provide the Committee with a business plan of its Tourist Support Programme.
Ms C Zikalala (IFP) was glad that the NDT was training tour guides and was promoting domestic tourism. She as a Member of Parliament was proud to say that on oversight visits she stayed at guesthouses and bed and breakfasts. She wished that EPWP participants should be drawn from all sectors of communities.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would in the next six months consider the NDT’s next biannual report.
Deliberations on Fourth Term Committee Programme
Mr Jerry Boltina, Committee Secretary, briefly took the Committee through its 2013 Fourth Term Committee Programme, which was now drawing to a close. He point out that the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) would be finalising the Tourism Bill on the 12 November 2013 and that the Bill might be referred back to the Committee to consider suggested changes.
He also highlighted outstanding issues that would be prioritised to appear on the programme of the Committee for 2014.
The Chairperson suggested that the Committee have a management meeting to discuss issues that needed to be prioritised for 2014.
The adoption of minutes dated the 15 and 29 October 2013 was deferred.
Ms Petra Van Niekerk, Parliamentary Liaison Officer: NDT, asked whether the Committee would be dealing with the Tourism Bill with amendments suggested by the NCOP after the 12 November 2013 in the current session or if it would be Bill be deferred to 2014.
The Chairperson said that the Tourism Bill had not been formally submitted to the Committee as yet. The Committee Secretariat would deal with the issue when it arose.
The meeting was adjourned.
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