The Committee considered its Draft Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR). In the interest of time the Committee Content Advisor briefly took the Committee through the Report, with greater emphasis being placed on deliberations by Members on the recommendations contained in the Report. Overall there seemed to be agreement amongst Members on the recommendations contained in the Report but Members were nevertheless encouraged to make inputs.
National Department of Tourism (NDT) interventions contained in the Report stated that the NDT had undertaken a process to revisit Social Responsibility Implementation (SRI) policy and to ensure sustainability of projects. An audit had been conducted. In addition an assessment of Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) and Provincial Governement Dpartments had been conducted and feedback to provinces and municipalities was provided about how best to align their plans. The NDT had also provided capacity building to local government. The DA wished that the Committee flagged both these interventions by the NDT as stated in the Report.
Of concern to members were the declining figures in domestic tourism, the need for an airlift strategy in SA and the impact that the Ebola outbreak in other parts of Africa had had on tourism in South Africa.
A recommendation was made that there should be a greater drive by the NDT on the issue of affordability of tourism products. Provision should be made for preferential pricing for South African citizens.
A suggestion was also made that there should be a Committee recommendation on foreign currency exposure as it related to SA Tourism. Concern was raised that it seemed that outcomes were not in alignment with the recommendations made. It was therefore suggested that a recommendation should be met with an aligned outcome.
Members expressed the view that the budget of the NDT should remain as it was.
The Committee adopted the Report as amended.
Draft Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR)
The Committee considered its Draft Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report.
The Chairperson said that the Draft BRRR was a comprehensive document. In the interests of time the Committee would concentrate on the Committee Recommendations.
The Committee Content Adviser, Mr Sibusiso Khuzwayo, was asked to take the Committee through the Report.
Mr Khuzwayo proceeded to take the Committee through the Report and briefly elaborated on sections where he deemed it necessary. Some of the areas he touched on were the strategic outcome orientated goals of the NDT, key government policies, figures on the NDT’s vote allocation, as well as key reported achievements and challenges. The essence of the Report was the Committee’s observations and recommendations.
Mr J Vos (DA) referred to National Department of Tourism (NDT) interventions contained in the Report, which stated that the NDT had undertaken a process to revisit Social Responsibility Implementation (SRI) policy and to ensure sustainability of projects. An audit had been conducted. In addition an assessment of Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) and Provincial Governement Dpartments (PGDs) had been conducted and feedback to provinces and municipalities was provided about how best to align their plans. The NDT had also provided capacity building to local government. He wished that the Committee flag both these interventions by the NDT.
Mr Vos asked what plans the Domestic Tourism Management Programme had in place to achieve the five targets that they had not achieved. On the challenges of the NDT, he asked if domestic tourism should not be included in the list of challenges given that domestic tourism figures were declining. On other service delivery findings, he noted that discussion in the industry was needed on the issue of an airlift strategy. In the last sentence of the paragraph he suggested that the word “should” be replaced by “must”. There should be no choice regarding consultation taking place.
Mr Vos noted that the DA agreed with the Committee Recommendations as contained in the Report. He made a suggestion that there should be a drive by the NDT to deal with the issue of affordability. He strongly felt that there should be preferential pricing for South African citizens. In addition there should also be clearer packaged products to South Africans in terms of what was on offer. For example what was exactly on offer in a town when one visited it. He referred to the recommendation made to SA Tourism regarding improving domestic and regional marketing and stated that events were important to both leisure and business tourism. There should be a greater drive to include events in NDT’s planning. He supported the recommendation for the reviewing of some of the aspects of the Tourism Grading Scheme. However the DA felt that the grading review should not only cover accommodation but other services as well. If grading was to be done on a compulsory basis then there should be categories.
Mr A Whitfield (DA) noted that foreign currency exposure of SA Tourism was a concern. Was R80 million the correct figure for foreign currency exposure liability? What measures had been put in place to mitigate this occurrence. No recommendation had been made by the Committee to mitigate foreign currency exposure.
Mr J Esterhuizen (IFP) referred to the paragraph on increased arrivals and said that the first sentence needed to be reworded as it did not make sense. He referred to poor planning by the NDT and SA Tourism and said that things in tourism were going to get tougher given the new visa regulations and the outbreak of Ebola in Africa. The budget of the NDT had to take that into account. He also referred to the recommendation to the NDT to look at the issue of wasteful and fruitless expenditure and said that travelling expenditure, which was under investigation, should be mentioned in the paragraph.
Ms L Makhubele-Mashele (ANC) said that the Report needed to be explicit on the sources of information on whether it was from annual reports or strategic plans. The use of acronyms also did not help. She referred to the recommendation on e-visas and suggested that something be included about visa agencies. She suggested that the Department of Home Affairs allocated visa agencies in South African embassies. Overall the recommendations spoke to what the Committee had observed. She suggested that the NDT’s budget remain as it was. Rollovers could not be requested, as there were no capital projects. She felt that the introduction paragraph on page one was ambiguous and needed to be reworded.
Mr Whitfield referred to the recommendation by the previous Committee that stated that all spheres of government should align their tourism activities and budgets to the National Development Plan to ensure that the sector achieved its targets. The Minister of Finance had supported the recommendation and had allocated R120 million over the 2014 MTEF period for the construction of the Golden Gate Highlands National Park Interpretative Centre. He felt that the outcome was not aligned to the recommendation that had been made. He asked Mr Khuzwayo to explain.
Mr Khuzwayo responded that the Minister of Finance had allocated the fund directly to the project. The funds were not channelled through the NDT. National Treasury had ring fenced the funds. What was captured in the Report was exactly how the Minister of Finance had responded to the recommendation.
He added that the Committee had requested that there be a Tourism Development Fund so that all funds went into one fund.
Mr Whitfield explained that the point that he was making was that a recommendation should be met with an aligned outcome.
Ms S Xego-Sovita (ANC) referred to the Tourism Development Fund and did not think that South Africa should compare itself with other countries. South Africa should do its own research and analysis and come up with its own unique solutions.
She agreed with Ms Makhubele-Mashele that the budget of the NDT should remain as it was.
Mr N Khoza (EFF) remarked that he had only received the Report the day before and needed time to go through it. He would come back to the Committee with a mandate on the recommendations and on the budget.
Mr Esterhuizen stated that he still did not have clarity on the National Treasury R120 million issue.
Mr Khuzwayo responded that the Committee would be provided with the actual documentation from National Treasury.
Ms Joyce Ntuli, Committee Researcher, explained that the recommendation in question spoke about two issues. The first was on alignment and the second on budgets. The R120 million allocated by National Treasury addressed the budget issue and not the alignment issue.
The Chairperson said that she had previously asked the NDT if they had all the money that they needed, what would they do with it? The NDT had not answered the question. She noted that there were issues around e-visas and Ebola. SA missions should release statements explaining where Ebola was prevalent. On grading, she said that there should be special packages to make tourism more affordable. Perhaps concessions could be made. The airlift strategy was important and interactions with the Department of Transport were needed. She emphasised that from next year the NDT would have to report to the Committee on a quarterly basis. The NDT had capacity issues. The NDT apparently experienced delays in its vetting process. All changes and inclusions would be incorporated into the Report.
The Committee adopted the Report as amended.
The meeting was adjourned.
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