The National Department of Tourism (NDT) briefed the Committee on its Annual Report 2014/15, with the Deputy Minister of Tourism giving an opening report and participating in answering questions. She noted that the NDT had received an unqualified audit report from the Auditor General. It had also met 85% of its targets. The vacancy rate was 6% compared to government’s target of 8%, it had achieved 53% representation of women, and 5.3% employment of people with disabilities. The NDT was considered to be one of the top-performing government departments on governance. The NDT was pleased that on the issue of visa regulations, Cabinet had approved the recommendations of the Inter-Ministerial Committee , and had found a balance between protecting security and promoting tourism. Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Codes of Good Practice had been published. A total of 900 youth had graduated as tourism buddies. The NDT was continuing to create jobs through Expanded Public Works Programme projects. The NDT was also supporting Small Medium and Micro Enterprises through its Tourism Enterprise Partnership.
The Chief Financial Officer reported that in addition to the unqualified audit, NDT had managed to spend 98.4% of its budget. Members were provided with a breakdown of actual expenditure in the four programmes and details were also provided on economic classification spending. The managers of each of the programmes then presented the highlights of programmes. The review of the Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan 2015/16 had been done. In addition 100% of tourists’ complaints had been referred to appropriate authorities for resolution within agreed timeframes, and the internal audit plans were fully implemented. In Programme 2, the Annual Tourist Guiding Report had been developed and finalised. A Report and Implementation Plan for Universal Accessibility in provincial parks had also been developed. The 2013 State of Tourism Report and the 2013/14 National Tourism Sector Strategy had both been developed. NDT did fall short in establishing a National Tourism Gateway at Beitbridge, but the reasons were fully explained. In respect of international tourism, response plans for identified priority areas had been developed, and these related to potential benefits for sports tourism from Brazil and Argentina, expanded market penetration in North Americas and strategic political interventions for Russia, Indonesia, and the Gulf Cooperation Council, although no interventions could be implemented in the Nordic region. A full report was also given on Programme 4, which promoted domestic tourism, where the NDT fell short on support to rural enterprises and market access, but surpassed targets for mentorships and building of historically disadvantaged enterprises. Various studies had been done that helped NDT to improve on areas of work, so there was good knowledge production and partnerships with universities for training in new areas. NDT was also cooperating well with other departments on cross-cutting functions. The forensic investigations were explained and NDT assured the Committee that it would take action to prosecute where necessary. It was pointed out that the projects that it undertook were capital intensive but labour-intensive also, which meant that they took longer to complete.
Members raised concerns that many of the jobs created by EPWP projects were of a short term nature, and that people may again rapidly become unemployed, so wondered if NDT could train people in tourism related fields that would be more sustainable in the long term. The NDT was asked whether it had a plan in place to create awareness overseas of SA’s visa regulations, and what the losses of revenue were to date. Members said that those from the rural areas still felt excluded from the tourism sector. They discussed the impact of the National Tourism Career Expos, and whether these would be rotated between provinces. Members appreciated the collaboration between the NDT and universities but hoped that the educational space would not be relegated only to institutions of higher learning, but be taken to people on the ground. They were interested to know whether there was a formal inter-departmental structure in place to assist with communications between government departments. Members requested figures on the progress made in the tourism sector on Black Economic Empowerment, and commented that beneficiation of the arts and cultural sector should be encouraged, so that artworks would not leave the country to be sold as vast profit overseas. Members urged that tourism be made more affordable to all South Africans and the possibility of dual pricing systems was discussed. NDT was strongly urged to take serious heed of the economic opportunities that halaal tourism could have for SA and heard a report on actions already taken. They also pointed out that small improvements on road signage would benefit locals and foreign visitors and encourage people to visit other places while commuting. Members were worried about negative reporting of SA and asked how NDT was addressing this. More questions were asked about the staffing, disabled numbers and pay, and work with municipalities.
Members finally adopted the Committee minutes of 28 October 2015.
National Department of Tourism 2015 Annual Report briefing
The National Department of Tourism (NDT) briefed the Committee on its Annual Report 2014/15, in the presence of Deputy Minister of Tourism Ms Tokozile Xasa.
Deputy Minister Xasa gave an introduction to the presentation. The NDT had received an unqualified audit report from the Auditor General of SA (AGSA). The NDT had also met 85% of its targets. The vacancy rate was 6%, compared to government’s target of 8%. In the NDT, there were 53% women, reaching empowerment targets. In relation to employment of persons with disabilities the NDT’s target was 5% and it had achieved 5.3%, as compared to the national target of 2%. The NDT was considered to be one of the top government departments on governance. The NDT was pleased that on the issue of visa regulations, Cabinet had approved the recommendations of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC). A balance was thus found between the security interests of South Africa (SA) and promotion of tourism. Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Codes of Good Practice had been published. A total of 900 youth had graduated as tourism buddies. The NDT was continuing to create jobs through Expanded Public Work Programme (EPWP) projects. The NDT was also supporting Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) through its Tourism Enterprise Partnership (TEP).
Mr Ralph Ackerman, Chief Financial Officer, NDT, spoke to the financial information of the NDT. He repeated that the NDT had received an unqualified audit report for the 2014/15 financial year. It had also spent 98.4% of its budget. Members were provided with a breakdown of actual expenditure in each of the the four Programmes of the NDT. Details were also provided on expenditure as per economic classification and expenditure as per high level item. The Deputy Director Generals took turns speaking to the performance of the respective programmes.
Programme 1: Administration
Ms Mmaditonki Setwaba, Acting Chief Operations Officer, NDT, noted that a target had been set for the review of the NDT’s Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan 2015/16 and this had been done. In addition 100% of tourists’ complaints had been referred to appropriate authorities for resolution within agreed timeframes. There was also 100% implementation of the annual internal audit plan.
Programme 2: Policy and Knowledge Services
Ms Nonkqubela Siluwane Acting Deputy Director General: Policy and Knowledge Systems, stated that the Annual Tourist Guiding Report had been developed and finalised. A Report and Implementation Plan for Universal Accessibility in provincial parks had also been developed. The 2013 State of Tourism Report and the 2013/14 National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) had both been developed. A target had been set for two National Tourism Information Gateways (NTIGs) at one land port or entry (Beitbridge) and one airport of entry at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA). Only the airport of entry target had been achieved. The one at Beitbridge had not been developed due to the Department of Home Affairs experiencing challenges there.
Programme 3: International Tourism Management
Ms Aneme Malan Deputy Director General: International Tourism Management, pointed out that three response plans for priority areas in markets had been developed and implemented. These related to potential benefits of sports tourism for SA from the Brazil and Argentina hub, a policy directive for expanded market penetration in North Americas and strategic political interventions for Russia, Indonesia, and the GCC region. One deviation was that a strategic political intervention in the Nordic region could not be implemented.
Programme 4: Domestic Tourism Management
Ms Morongoe Ramphele, Deputy Director General: Domestic Tourism Management, NDT, stated that the target for the number of rural enterprises supported per year had been set at 489, but the actual performance was 466. For the number of businesses supported with market access the target had been set at 450 but the actual figure achieved was only 282. However targets were surpassed when it came to the number of enterprises supported to grow through mentorship (target 34; achieved 35) and on the number of historically disadvantaged enterprises that were supported per year (target 1 263; achieved 1363).
Mr Victor Tharage Director General, NDT assured the Committee that all the reports that were referred to in the Annual Report would be made available to the Committee. He explained that the problem at Beitbridge was that there had been changes in the flow of activities. The venue that the NDT wished to use had to be moved to another place. The decision was thus made that it did not make economic sense to go ahead. Security concerns were one of the main reasons why the Gateway at Beitbridge had not been pursued.
He explained that in relation to the various studies that had been undertaken at universities the intention of the NDT was to improve certain areas of its work. A great deal of knowledge production had taken place. On the international scene a great deal of work was being done on SA as a hub. The issue of e-visas was also getting attention. There was cooperation between the NDT and other departments. The NDT did not define the policy mandate of other departments, but would work with them on cross-cutting matters.
He also reported that the forensic investigations referred to in the Annual Report had not yet been concluded at the time of reporting. He explained that an implementer had not followed an agreement as it was concluded, either deliberately or perhaps due to outside circumstances. Police cases were always opened by the NDT where it was deemed necessary. The Committee would be kept abreast of progress.
Mr Tharage said that the NDT recognised that it needed to strengthen its systems. Projects undertaken were capital intensive but the methodologies were labour based. A balance was needed. On EPWP Projects, around 30% to 40% of funds went towards wages. Following this labour methodology meant that projects took longer to complete.
Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) spoke to domestic tourism and pointed out that 30% of budgets had been spent on EPWP jobs. His concern was that these jobs were only in existence in the short term. He queried whether it would not be better to have an educating component as well. Many EPWP projects had failed and some were even non-operational. Once the EPWP project was completed, people would find themselves unemployed again. He asked whether the NDT could not train people in tourism related fields that would be more sustainable in the long term – and suggested that apprenticeships could perhaps be offered. He noted that millions of rands had been lost in tourism revenue due to the visa regulations. He asked whether the NDT had a plan in place to create awareness overseas, on the visa regulations. Many operators had left the sector and he asked how the NDT intended to attract operators back, given that the intention was to grow tourism.
Ms Ramphele answered on the issue of training people on EPWP projects, and reported that there were two types of training. The first was non accredited training - which would be offered to persons involved in the construction of the project. The second type of training was accredited training – and this would include the training of persons to become chefs or tourism buddies or other workers in the actual tourism sector. Here, the Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality, Sports Sector Education Training Authority (CATHSSETA) provided the accreditation.
Ms Malan explained that visa regulations would be rolled out in three phases. The first was within the next three months. The second phase was from the third month to a year and the third phase rollout would be beyond a year. She noted that all interested parties had been briefed on the outcomes of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC). She stated that the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) was driving the process. She said that regulations needed to be changed. There was another meeting scheduled within the next two weeks. The lifespan of the IMC had been extended. Optimism was high regarding the implementation of the visa regulations.
Mr L Mokoena (EFF, Free State) noted that the briefing had spoken to what the NDT had done. The Committee did not however get a sense of how the NDT had impacted on peoples’ lives. People from rural areas were complaining that they were being excluded from the tourism sector. Mention was made of a career expo, but he wanted to know what impact it had and how many people were touched by it. He understood that the NDT was collaborating with universities but hoped that the educational space was not being relegated to institutions of higher learning. He believed that education should be taken directly to the people. He asked whether there was a formal interdepartmental structure in place to assist with communications between government departments. Often there was overlap and no single structure was in place. This interdepartmental communication was important when it came to matters like sports tourism.
Ms Ramphele answered on the impact that the career expo had on peoples’ lives, and said that the NDT had done an analysis to compare the three expos that had been held in the KwaZulu-Natal with the two that were held in the Eastern Cape. The results of the analysis had shown that the number of learners and schools that had participated had increased between 2008 to 2012. SMMEs were brought on board to provide accommodation and food . In 2012, 93 354 learners had been on board. There was almost R6.5m that went to SMMEs as a result of this expo. Teachers who had attended even took something back to their homes. Learners themselves imparted their own stories. The work of the NDT was aligned with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
Mr Tharage added that in relation to an assessment whether real change was taking place, the NDT needed to drive its communication campaign. The NDT had been doing some good work. There were some good projects where people were permanently employed. For intergovernmental related issues, the NDT took its policy matters through cluster processes. The NDT participated in international relations and other government clusters. There was a National Tourism Stakeholder Forum in place. The Forum allowed Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) to deliberate about the implementation of the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS). There were sub-fora that dealt with different things.
Mr Tharage reported that the NDT’s relationship with institutions of higher learning was two pronged. The first was on knowledge production. For example the University of Zululand had done a study on how communities staying in close proximity to nature reserves could take advantage of their location. The lessons coming out from the study could be replicated in other areas as well. The second was on capacity building. The NDT came to the realisation that there was limited knowledge production because there was limited development of tourism scholars at universities. The NDT thus worked with five universities to capacitate scholars.
Mr S Mthimunye (ANC, Mpumalanga) said that the Committee needed figures on Black Economic Empowerment (BEE). He particular, he asked how many black companies there were in the sector and how many jobs had been created. He asked what the content was of the NDT’s domestic tourism programme, and what was being done to ignite interest with the youth of SA? He felt that the beneficiation of SA’s arts and cultural heritage was important, citing his concern that often, South African pieces of art were sold overseas for huge sums of money yet none of the funds made their way back to SA. The person who produced the works of art should be the one to benefit financially from such sales. He noted that it would be interesting to see what the Presidency’s Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) had to say about the performance of the NDT. He asked whether such a report was available.
Mr Tharage referred to the last Lilizela Awards in which the winner a certain Mama Mahlangu had caused a stir at the function with her Ndebele regalia, and that was an example of the integration of experiences of people of SA . The broader part of the NDT’s strategy was to encourage authentic experiences. On the issue of the performance report of the NDT by the DME he said that the NDT was considered to be one of the top-performing government departments. The NDT had been nominated for an award. On the administrative side of things the NDT was fairly happy. There were good controls in place and oversight was taking place. Internal audit committee meetings were also taking place. The NDT had also strengthened its Information Technology (IT). He said that reports would be provided to the Committee. The NDT had conducted a study on BEE and the report would be forwarded to the Committee. The report had been used in the development of the new BEE Codes in order for alignment with the Department of Trade and Industry’s Codes.
Ms Ramphele said that efforts were also being made to instil a culture of travel in SA’s youth. She stated that SanParks had training centres for educators but learners were also welcome. She conceded that much more work could be done. The NDT had supported a school in Tshwane to go to Maropeng.
Mr J Londt (DA, Western Cape) said that it was important that local tourism should be made affordable to South Africans. Citizens should have access to tourism sites, hence these should be made affordable. He asked why dual pricing had not been considered.
Mr Tharage responded that the issue of dual pricing was a policy matter. There were countries that embraced dual pricing. The NDT tried to be evidence driven, and look at what the evidence said about dual pricing. SA had a diverse range of tourism products. The biggest issue was to instil a culture of travel into South Africans. The NDT was working with the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) and SanParks on how to make travel more affordable. He pointed out that currently there were places that charged R400 per night for accommodation inclusive of breakfast. Gold Reef City was most probably the biggest theme park in SA, if not Africa, and it was regularly frequented by travellers from Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho. The value of this spend was what the NDT was trying to pursue.
The Chairperson stated that the NDT did not have to provide the Committee with figures on the impact that it was making, as was asked by Mr Mokoena. The NDT did in any event report to the Committee on its plans. The current meeting was to deal with the 2014/15 Annual Report of the Committee.
Mr Y Vawda (EFF, Mpumalanga) pointed out that in 2012, worldwide, $29bn had been spent on halaal tourism. Halaal tourism was an opportunity that SA needed to take advantage of. In KwaZulu-Natal a conference on this had been held in the last couple of years. The spend on halaal tourism by 2020 was estimated to grow to $192bn worldwide. He said that he was approached regularly by people regarding the issue. A point that he was concerned about was that SA was still working in socio-economic systems that had existed pre-1994. SA needed to think out of the box. He preferred to use the term “visitor” rather than “tourist”, for the latter implied a foreigner who was visiting on holiday. He pointed out that every weekend thousands of people travelled from their places of work in urban areas to rural areas. It was the smaller changes that would make the difference. If road signage was improved for locals then it would automatically be an improvement for international travellers as well.
Mr Tharage responded that the NDT was already doing a great deal of work on halaal tourism. Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom had visited Saudi Arabia, and there was better connectivity in that space. SA was receptive to halaal tourists. Dress codes, food and religious rights were taken into consideration. It was a ready environment, but activation was still needed. He noted that the NDT was looking at the Middle East as a whole. He noted that visitors from the United Arab Emirates, on average, stayed in SA for two months at a time and spent huge sums of money.
Ms Z Ncitha (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked whether the NDT was to continue with its National Tourism Career Expo. It benefitted the youth, businesses and even the provinces where it was held. She asked whether it would rotate from province to province each year. She was pleased that the NDT was focussing on local tourism. She asked what partnership the NDT had with the media. The negative reporting by media was an issue which needed to be addressed, and she asked if the NDT met with the media to better sell SA.
Ms Ramphele stated that the NDT did collaborate with municipalities. Municipalities should be mandated to deal with tourism. In regard to social tourism the NDT had engaged with stokvels, for stokvel members had the cash but did not know which places to visit or travel to. The NDT had a programme with SanParks and the Federated Hospitality Association of SA (FEDHASA) to come up with a booklet listing places that could be visited. She noted that there was one week in September in which entrance to provincial parks was free.
Mr Nthebe said the NDT needed to find ways to make tourism accessible to all South Africans. He asked what work the NDT was doing in the North West Province.
The Chairperson referred to the NDT’s Annual Report 2014/15, at page 80 and noted certain categories of employed people. There were fourteen white females employed at a total cost of R206m. A total of 28 disabled persons were employed at a cost of R233m. He asked for some explanation on that, and said that people with disabilities should be receiving equal compensation.
Mr Tharage noted the comments of the Chairperson on the issue of disabled persons. The NDT did have a Deputy Director General and a couple of directors who were disabled. The disabled persons referred to in the Annual Report who brought the percentage up had only just been employed by the NDT.
Deputy Minister Xasa, in conclusion, said that the inputs and questions of members would be taken into consideration when the NDT did its work. On the National Tourism Careers Expo there were now more schools that offered tourism courses. A report had been done by the NDT, the CATHSSETA and Umalusi, which she explained was the council for quality assurance in general and further education and training on how to bring tourism into the curriculum and at institutions of higher learning. She also pointed out that provinces had their own tourism expos. The tourism industry also held exhibitions. The industry was also aligning its programmes to the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS). Gelling and alignment was taking place. The reality was that the NDT could not reach all municipalities but there was a broad platform in place to communicate to them. The NDT had a partnership with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). On international tourism, the Cabinet resolution would make it easier for people to travel to SA.
She said that there was collaboration with institutions of higher learning and the NDT was working with the Department of Higher Education and Training. The skills offered were now better. On the beneficiation of small producers she responded that government was grappling with the issue. Tourists came to SA to buy items in bulk and may then sell these abroad. It was an area of huge concern. South African indigenous items were sold all over the world, the proceeds of which did not find its way to the original producers. She suggested that when SA Tourism presented its Annual Report to the Committee they should speak to the implementation of domestic tourism and on the issue of its affordability.
Minutes dated the 28 October 2015 was adopted, without amendments.
The meeting was adjourned.
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