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PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM
10 September 2002
BRIEFING ON INTERNATIONAL TOURISM
Chairperson: Ms G. Mahlangu
Documents handed out:
Protocol on the Development of Tourism in the Southern African Development Community
A Tourism Approach to NePAD
South African Tourism: Tourism Growth Strategy May 2002
The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs and Tourism discussed international tourism in the SADC region with the tourism branch of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and South African Tourism. The Portfolio Committee ratified The Protocol on the Development of Tourism in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), becoming the 9th SADC country to do so. Also discussed were the Tourism Growth Strategy for South Africa and the 2002 Indaba, a trade show that showcased mainly South African products to international buyers.
Presentation by the tourism branch of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
Dr Patrick Matlou from the tourism branch of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism presented the content of the Protocol on the Development of Tourism in the Southern African Development Community. The objectives of the protocol were:
To use tourism as a vehicle to achieve sustainable social and economic development through the full realisation of its potential for the Region;
To ensure equitable, balanced and complimentary development of the tourism industry region-wide;
To optimise resource usage and increase competitive advantage in the Region vis-à-vis other destinations through collective efforts and co-operation in an environmentally sustainable manner;
To ensure the involvement of small and micro-enterprises, local communities, women and youth in the development of tourism throughout the Region;
To contribute towards the human resource development of the Region through job creation and the development of skills at all levels in the tourism industry;
to create a favourable investment climate for tourism within the Region for both the public and private sectors, including small and medium scale tourist establishments;
To improve the quality, competitiveness and standards of service of the tourism industry in the Region;
To improve the standards of safety and security for tourists in the territories of Member States and to make appropriate provision for disabled, handicapped and senior citizens in their respective countries;
To aggressively promote the Region as a single but multifaceted tourism destination capitalising on its common strengths and highlighting on the unique tourist attractions of individual Member States;
To facilitate intra-regional travel for the development of tourism through the easing or removal of travel and visa restrictions and harmonisation of immigration procedures;
To improve tourism service and infrastructure in order to foster a vibrant tourism industry.
Cabinet forwarded the Protocol to Parliament for endorsement. It would then be sent to the Office of the SADC National Point with a request that an Instrument of Ratification be drafted for signature by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Questions and Discussion
Ms J. Semple (DP) - commented that the Protocol would be beneficial for the SADC region. She asked who would receive the money for the SADC region visa fees.
Ms L. Mbuyazi (IFP) - said that there was a serious need for better and easier visa access for those living in the SADC region, but wanted to know how they could ensure that the countries were secure with people of many countries sharing common visa.
Mr P. Matlou (DEAT) - said that the forging of visas could be an issue, and it needed to be discussed in greater detail.
Ms R. Ndzanga (ANC) - wanted to know how the private sector was going to be geared to deal with poverty eradication in rural areas.
Mr P. Matlou (DEAT) - responded that the connection of the different SADC regions would increase activity in the rural areas through the transport. People travelling from one tourist destination to another throughout the SADC region would have to travel through the rural areas.
Ms R. Ndzanga (ANC) - noted her concern that those in the rural areas would be "swallowed up" by big business.
Mr P. Matlou (DEAT) - said that it would be beneficial to use big business to assure that opportunities for HDI's and people in the rural areas increased. He said that it would be beneficial if a certain percentage of big business' funding went to promote/support small businesses and that the idea would be brought to NEPAD and SADC. He agreed that the money brought in needed to stay within the countries, and people needed to be trained.
A committee member asked if there were any time frames for the SADC visa. He asked how the transfrontier parks would be included in the borders, and wanted to know if the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) could be more involved in regionalising tourism. If so, it should be increased from two people.
Mr P. Matlou (DEAT) - said that the time frames still had to be discussed. One of the complications was that all of the border posts would have to be computerised, which would take time. He also stated that RETOSA should receive more funding. Southern African banks would be a possible source of that funding.
Mr E. Moorcroft (DP) - wanted to know who would fund the marketing of the region, states or the region as a whole.
Mr P. Matlou (DEAT) - responded that RETOSA did already exist, and states had already been contributing to its funding. South Africa had paid USD $52 thousand, however, the sharing of visa fees still needed to be discussed in greater detail. Information sharing with the European Union (EU) regarding the uni-visas would be greatly beneficial to the SADC region. Mr Matlou also pointed out that there are already eight countries who do not have to pay visa fees in the region. Those who were still required to have the visas would have the money split based on the borders the individual crossed. All SADC activities would come from the regional office in Gaborone, Botswana. For the plan to be fully viable, increased funding from private sector contributions would be important. One country should not bare the entire cost.
Mr J. Arendse (ANC) - wanted to know who RETOSA would be accountable to after there were no more public funds.
Mr R. September (ANC) - introduced the idea of extending the railways beyond the SADC region from the Cape to Cairo, as well as the idea of putting Ubuntu exhibitions on the trains to promote tourism.
Mr P. Matlou (DEAT) - responded that his presentation was restricted to the SADC region and that DEAT had the responsibility to develop tourism in South Africa first.
Prof. I Mbadi (UDM) - asked what would happen to the people in the rural areas not located near major routes of transport. Would they not benefit from the regionalisation of tourism?
Mr P. Matlou (DEAT) - stated that there was a need to improve infrastructure throughout the country to eliminate poverty. Furthermore, South Africans, particularly those in the extreme rural areas, needed to see an increase in business training and skills.
Ms G. Mahlangu (ANC) - said that the Protocol was well received by the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs and Tourism. She stated that the Committee was proud to be the ninth SADC country to ratify the Protocol. She also said that the next meeting on domestic tourism should include representatives from embassies, local government, study groups that deal with tourism, and representatives from the transportation sector.
Mr P. Matlou (DEAT) - concluded by saying that communication and information sharing would be an important tool for promoting African tourism.
Presentation by South African Tourism
Ms Cheryl Carolus, CEO of South African Tourism, and Moeketsi Mosolo, Chief Operating Officer of South Africn Tourism, presented South Africa's tourism growth strategy, as well as South Africa's travelling trade exhibition, "Indaba". Ms Carolus illustrated the five key goals of South African Tourism:
1. An increase in tourists coming into the country.
2. An increase in the amount of money they spend.
3. To encourage longer stays in South Africa.
4. More geographic distribution within and among the 9 Provinces.
5. More consistency surrounding the different seasons in South Africa.
Ms Carolus explained that after 11 September 2002, global tourism greatly decreased because of the fear of terrorism and the poor global economy, yet tourism to South Africa continued to grow. SAA chose to add a new flight from London to Cape Town to accommodate the increase in tourists. The WSSD also greatly promoted tourism to South Africa, which is currently increasing their marketing within the African continent (Kenya and Tanzania), as well as globally (the United States, India and China). The WSSD also proved that South Africa had the capacity to hold large, international events, such as the World Cup. She reported that E-business had taken a large step forward in South Africa, and a new web site on South African tourism had been greatly successful.
South African Tourism also presented on South Africa's travelling trade exhibition, "Indaba". They reported that "Indaba" was the seventh most prominent International Tourism Trade show in the world and that 2002 brought the highest number of delegates into South Africa to buy their products. Indaba showcased mainly South African products to international buyers. The Department was attempting to make "Indaba" one of the top three tourism trade shows in the world.
Questions and Discussion
Mr R. September (ANC) - asked to what extent HDIs were getting involved in marketing.
Ms C. Carolus (South African Tourism) - said that they would like people to travel broader throughout South Africa and the region and pointed out that the Backpackers were excellent for this. She explained that travelers wanted new things on the market. The goal for procurement to black businesses was 40%. Creating jobs was very important to them.
Ms L. Mbuyazi (IFP) - said that it was good to have the "Indaba" exhibiting outside South Africa, but that it was important to bring people into the country.
Mr J. Arendse (ANC) - wanted to know who represented South Africa at the exhibitions and who decided who represented South Africa.
Ms G. Mahlangu (ANC) - believed that one person from the Portfolio Committee should be represented at the "Indaba".
Ms C. Carolus (South African Tourism) - invited the portfolio committee to a Tourism Day ceremony on 27 September 2002. She stated that she would like to have Parliamentary representation at the "Indabas", but pointed out that they have cut down the number of shows they attend, as it was quite expensive to participate.
Mr E. Moorcroft (DP) - was concerned that in the "Tourism Growth Strategy" report it said that if South Africa did nothing differently in 2002, overall arrivals would grow by no more than .8%, and tourism revenue would only do slightly better with a projected 1.2% growth for that year.
Ms C. Carolus (South African Tourism) - explained that South Africa could not carry on with 1.2% growth in tourism annually. They had set a target of 5% per annum. To do this, they were making a conscious effort to look at where and what was being marketed.
Ms J. Semple (DP) - wanted to know if they were increasing spending on small markets or bigger ones. She also mentioned that while she was attending the WSSD, people from other countries told her that they were warned not to go into the streets alone. She wanted to know if perhaps the tourism industry was not paying enough attention to safety issues in South Africa.
Mr P. Matlou (DEAT) - stated that the tourism books for South Africa all caution people to be careful in the cities. There was a debate over whether or not to release these cautions to tourists, as it may deter them from making the decision to travel to South Africa. He said that after 11 September 2001, South Africa was seen as safer for tourists. Mr Matlou pointed out that sometimes the media blew things out of proportion, but still wanted to encourage the government to improve those areas of the tourism industry that needed improvement.
Ms G. Mahlangu (ANC) - wanted to know when the "Indaba" would be held in the Eastern Cape.
A representative from DEAT explained that the locations for the "Indabas" were decided based on quality of facilities and new ideas. For example, it was KwaZulu Natal's idea to have all 9 Provinces represented in the "Indaba".
Mr R. September (ANC) - stated that more energy needed to be exerted to make sure that HDI's benefited from the "Indabas" and tourism in general.
Ms G. Mahlangu (ANC) - wanted to know what was being done for people with disabilities.
Ms C. Carolus (South African Tourism) - said that the issue around people with disabilities needed to be discussed and the situation improved. She stated that Parliament had the power to create legislation to benefit the disabled, but government could only recommend and set standards. She stated that disabilities were a human rights issue. In general, tourism equity around race and gender were doing well.
Mr P. Matlou (DEAT) - said that they did look at the issue of disabled people in their tourism plans. He explained that DEAT had released a booklet regarding access for disabled, but the fact that it was only printed in English hindered its impact. He stated that the issue needed to be brought to the public.
Ms G. Mahlangu (ANC) - Thanked the presenters for the meeting and said that one more South Africa specific would take place in the future.
The meeting was adjourned.
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