The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) provided the Committee with a synopsis of tourism research compendium and mapping in the sector in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), with an overview of tourism as covered in Chapters 3 and 6 of the NDP. The tourism research done by the HSRC (or in collaboration with other partners and organisations) had been grouped into the following broad thematic areas, in line with the NDP:
Economy and employment
Main themes included the significance of tourism as a growth sector for provincial economies, the analysis of foreign visitor arrivals and visiting friends and relatives, the socio-economic impact of events and festivals, as well as the development, support and impact of tourism on small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs).The HSRC had done a study on tourism innovation in the Western Cape and on tourism potential in the Limpopo Province.
Transforming urban and rural areas
Tourism and creative industries particularly in urban areas, rural tourism development in SA and community participation in tourism ventures, were some of the main themes. Studies had been done on responsible township tourism, based on research in Soweto, and on eco-tourism leakages and costs in AmaZizi in KwaZulu-Natal.
Low carbon or green economy
A green economy baseline study had been done for the Limpopo Province. The main themes in this area were the national co-operative programme, human needs and the environment, as well as energy saving in hotels in Mpumalanga.
Social and cultural issues
Main themes were the ‘born free ‘ generation and heritage tourism, sex tourism and the exploitation and trafficking of children, and the issue of gender in the National Industrial Policy Framework. Studies had been undertaken on ‘born frees’ and heritage tourism, an impact assessment of the Marula Festival in the Limpopo Province, and also the socio-economic impact of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) in the KwaZulu-Natal Province.
Skills, training and education
This focused on attitudes towards work and social security in SA, HIV and AIDS workplace programmes for the tourism industry, and the tourism human resources development strategy and skills audit, which was being reviewed currently. Studies had been conducted on the attitude of South African work seekers towards employment in the hospitality sector.
Some policy recommendations and their implications put forward by the HSRC were that the ability of arts and cultural festivals to have a large impact on rural economies was constrained by the high leakage of festival revenues outside the local economy. The impact of self-selection of low-skilled work seekers in the hospitality sector and the short duration of public employment tourism interventions limited the contribution of tourism to meeting the 11 million jobs required by 2030. Greater enforcement of labour regulations were needed, as the basic conditions of work might increase participation in the hospitality sector. Support for tourism SMMEs was crucial in terms of meeting NDP employment challenges.
Recommendations made by the HSRC included the need for a centre or platform for tourism research to enhance linkages between organisations doing tourism research and stakeholders in government and the tourism industry. Greater incentives were needed to ensure an increased uptake of youth and graduates in the tourism industry. There was also a need for tracer studies to map pathways from Public Works programmes to labour market participation. The effectiveness of public sector tourism interventions required evaluation.
Members said they would have liked greater detail, but understood the presentation to be only an overview of research that had been done. Concern was raised over the HSRC’s call for greater enforcement of labour regulations, as it was felt that perhaps there was a need to consider a relaxation of labour laws, which would be less restrictive to the economy. This would give struggling small businesses in the tourism industry a bit of leeway. Members also asked why festivals held in a particular area should only benefit those in that area. Was it not better if all South Africans could benefit, even those from beyond the area? The presentation had pointed out the problems of the EPWP well enough, but it did had not spoken to what needed to be done to improve participation. The HSRC was asked to quantify issues and to come up with figures, as these would be useful to the Committee. The presentation had stimulated the thinking of Members on policies that could possibly address issues. However, Members required a more quantifiable analysis in order to choose the correct policies.
The HSRC was asked how rural schools could be assisted so that learners could be exposed to the tourism sector so they could perhaps become participants in it in the future. What suggestions did the HSRC have to attract foreign tourists to cultural activities in rural areas? How could land claimants be assisted to participate in the tourism sector in order to make it their livelihood? Concerns were raised that with EPWP projects, people remained as labourers and did not progress further.
The HSRC was asked to quantify and specify the support that could be given to tourism SMMEs. It was urged to collaborate with the National Department of Tourism and SA Tourism. Members observed that there seemed to be a gap between what tourism studies offered and what the demands from the tourism sector were. Given that tourism was a concurrent function in the constitution, Members asked whether this was seen as an obstacle to the development of provincial tourism. If the HSRC did see it as an obstacle, what could be done to remove it?
Why did the HSRC believe that township tourism was under-developed? What were tourists expecting in townships? Members were disappointed that local South Africans were not willing to do low-paying jobs in the hospitality sector. The HSRC was asked what could be done to change attitudes. Members pointed out that the presentation had not spoken about the impact that the weakening rand had had on tourism. SA being an affordable destination to foreigners, how could foreign tourist arrivals be boosted? What were the HSRC views on the impact that Uber was having on transport in the tourism industry?
Briefing by Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
The HSRC provided the Committee with a synopsis of the tourism research compendium and mapping in the sector, in line with the National Development Plan (NDP). The delegation comprised of Mr Stewart Ngandu, Chief Researcher: Economic Performance and Development Unit; Ms Irma Booyens, Senior Research Manager: Economic Performance and Development Unit; and Mr Zaakhir Asmal,Researcher: Economic Performance and Development Unit. Mr Ngandu and Ms Booyens took turns with the presentation. The Committee was provided with an overview of tourism as covered in the NDP. Tourism was mostly covered in Chapters 3 and 6 of the NDP. The tourism research done by the HSRC (or in collaboration with other partners and organisations) had been grouped into the following broad thematic areas, in line with the NDP:
Economy and employment
Some of the main themes in this area included the significance of tourism as a growth sector for provincial economies, the analysis of foreign visitor arrivals and visiting friends and relatives, the socio- economic impact of events and festivals, as well as development, support and impact of tourism on small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs).The HSRC had done a study on tourism innovation in the Western Cape and on tourism potential in the Limpopo Province. Members were provided with detail on the key findings and recommendations of each study.
Transforming urban and rural areas
Tourism and creative industries particularly in urban areas, rural tourism development in SA and community participation in tourism ventures, were some of the main themes in the area. Two studies that were done covered responsible township tourism based on research in Soweto, and the other was on eco-tourism leakages and costs done in AmaZizi, in KwaZulu-Natal. Detail on the key findings and recommendations of the two studies were provided to members.
Low carbon or green economy
The green economy baseline study was conducted for the Limpopo Province. The main themes in this area were the national co-operative programme, human needs and the environment, as well as energy saving in hotels in Mpumalanga.
Social and cultural issues
Some of the main themes in the area were the ‘born free ‘ generation and heritage tourism, sex tourism and the exploitation and trafficking of children, and the issue of gender in the National Industrial Policy Framework. Studies had been undertaken on ‘born frees’ and heritage tourism, the impact assessment of the Marula Festival in the Limpopo Province and also the socio-economic impact of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) in KwaZulu-Natal. Members were provided with detail on the key findings and recommendations of each study.
Skills, training and education
Among the main themes in this area were attitudes towards work and social security in SA, workplace programmes on HIV and AIDS for the tourism industry, and the tourism human resources development strategy and skills audit which was being reviewed currently. Studies had been conducted on the attitude of South African work seekers towards employment in the hospitality sector and on the tourism human resources development strategy and skills audit. Detail on the key findings and recommendations of the studies were provided to members.
Some policy recommendations and their implications put forward by the HSRC were that the ability of arts and cultural festivals to have a large impact on rural economies was constrained by the high leakage of festival revenues outside the local economy. The impact of self-selection of low-skilled work seekers from the hospitality sector and the short duration of public employment tourism interventions limited the contribution of tourism to meeting the 11 million jobs required by 2030. Greater enforcement of labour regulations were needed as the basic conditions of work might increase participation in the hospitality sector. Support for tourism SMMEs was crucial in terms of meeting NDP employment challenges.
Overall recommendations made by the HSRC included the need for a centre or platform for tourism research to enhance linkages between organisations doing tourism research and stakeholders in government and the tourism industry. Greater incentives were needed to ensure an increased uptake of youth and graduates in the tourism industry. There was also a need for tracer studies to map pathways from Public Works programmes to labour market participation. The effectiveness of public sector tourism interventions required evaluation.
Mr G Krumbock (DA) thanked the HSRC for the presentation and said that many topics had been highlighted, which the Committee had not had sight of. The presentation frustrated and intrigued him at the same time, as he was expecting more information. He did understand that the presentation had been only an overview. He referred to the HSRC’s comment on page 21, which spoke about “greater enforcement of labour regulations”. This was different from what was usually heard in Parliament. He said that there was a huge failure rate by small businesses in the tourism sector. Small businesses would be most at risk if the labour regime was more restrictive. Some years back, ex-President Thabo Mbeki had said in his State of the Nation Address that there was a need to look at where labour laws could be less restrictive to the economy. He asked how one could come up with a policy to relax labour laws in order to increase participation.
On economic leakages with respect to local initiatives like festivals, where a high degree of economic benefit did not accrue to the local economy, he noted that the statement might be true. Howevere, why was it an issue if it had a high multiplier effect? Did it really matter which South Africans were benefiting from festivals? Why should only locals benefit? Why could more people, even from outside the area, not benefit? He would have liked to hear about the policy impact of what had been presented. No comparisons had been made. Perhaps a benchmark was needed. An economic benchmark would have been useful in terms of what should be done, measuring what had been done and thereafter looking at the impact. The question after research was done was: what now? The presentation pointed out the problems of the EPWP well. However, it did not speak to what needed to be done to improve participation. What would be useful to the Committee was if things could be quantified and figures were provided. The presentation had stimulated the thinking of Members on policies that could address issues. However, a more quantifiable analysis was needed in order to choose the correct policies.
Ms Booyens explained that the HSRC had never really done research on tourism in detail. Hence the research was “here and there.” The HSRC had forwarded a document to the Committee listing various studies done. If Members had questions on the studies they should feel free to ask. The presentation was merely to provide an overview of the research that the HSRC had done. Detail could be provided and further recommendations could be made.
Mr Ngandu, referring to labour conditions and the recommendations, said that the recommendations flowed from the analysis that had been done. As to why people self select, working conditions in the tourism industry were bad. When research was done, respondents said that they placed a great deal of value on the basic conditions of employment and their discrepancies in the tourism sector. Regulation and enforcement was therefore needed. The tourism sector was made up mostly of small businesses. Small businesses could not afford to pay high wages. People would rather have a business for which they were working close down, than accept lower wages. He gave the Committee an example of a chicken business that had closed down due to this. He suggested there was a need for a social contract that perhaps could call for a relaxing of regulations where this was needed. One had still to be wary of the possibility that employers could take advantage of employees.
On leakages being low, he said that there was a certain level of unevenness. Government had nodal areas on which it focussed. In the former homeland areas unemployment was high. There were huge concentrations of tourism activities in some provinces and in others there were none. How could small economies capture some of it? There was a huge migration of people to areas like Gauteng. The impact must be felt by the locals where a festival or activity was held. If this happened, then there would be slow outward migration.
Mr R Cebekhulu (IFP) asked how rural schools could be assisted to expose children to the tourism sector. If enough exposure was given to them, then they could in the future be employed in the sector. How had the drought experienced in some parts of SA affected tourism? He noted that a large number of foreign tourists flocked to events like the Cape Town Jazz Festival at the expense of traditional tourist places where craftwork, etc, was done. The presentation had spoken of studies done in AmaZizi in the Northern Drakensberg -- there were activities taking place in KZN with the help of organisations to which tourists were flocking. On the EPWP projects, people worked as labourers and were not empowered to be their own bosses. He asked how current land claimants could be assisted in getting a piece of the tourism pie in order to make a living from it.
Ms Booyens noted the concerns about the lack of participation by previously disadvantaged persons in tourism. On the Cape Town Jazz Festival issue, she conceded that she did not have answers. Getting tourists to rural areas was about people appreciating cultural activities like reed dances. It also depended on whether locals in rural areas wished foreigners to watch them during cultural activities. Visitors flocked to Cape Town because the Cape Town Jazz Festival was popular. The HSRC unfortunately did not have the answers. A discussion on cultural tourism was needed. Perceptions on how black people were seen also had to be taken into consideration. It should also be asked what was currently considered to be contemporary. She noted the comment on the land claimants, and said that the HSRC would look into it.
On public employment in tourism, Mr Ngandu said that it was an emerging area of work. The HSRC did look at the socio-economic impact of the EPWP. One of the things that had come out of the research was that pathways into the labour market were not well articulated. The HRSC’s engagement with the Department of Public Works had determined that the HSRC had to contextualise in line with the objectives of the EPWP. From a performance point of view, the tourism sector was the best performing. In tourism, the skills given were what were demanded by the industry. One of the recommendations was how best to map out pathways. Tracer studies had been conducted to show when a person entered a programme, and what happened when the programme ended. Tracer studies were needed on programmes in tourism.
Ms P Adams (ANC) asked the HSRC under which Department it fell. What was its mandate? Where was the HSRC located? On page 23, referring to support for tourism SMMEs, she asked if the HSRC could quantify the support and what kind of support it would be. Did the HSRC have a relationship with SA Tourism? In studying tourism trends, the HSRC had to connect with SA Tourism. If there was not interaction, why was there no interaction? In her experience, she found that students who studied tourism were not easily employable. Were there gaps between the academic field and the workplace reality in the sector? On the enhancement of pro-poor benefits in rural and peri-urban areas, she asked what initiatives the HSRC was referring to. In the constitution, tourism was regarded as a concurrent function -- did the HSRC see this as an obstacle for development of provincial tourism? If it was an obstacle, how could it be removed? The HSRC was also asked why studies had been done in the Western Cape and the Limpopo provinces -- why had lesser visited provinces like the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape not been chosen? The HSRC should conduct research in all nine provinces to identify where tourism could step in, where mining had failed to create jobs, for instance.
On page 11 it was stated that there was a perceived demand for township tourism. Why the use of the word “perceived”? Why was it considered that the township tourism product was under-developed? What experiences did tourists want? She referred to page 15, which mentioned the Marula Festival in the Limpopo Province and asked whether the demographics of the visitors played a role. In addition, did the demographics of the stalls have an impact on the money that was made at the festival? On matters of attitude, she asked how it could be corrected. It was sad that it was only foreigners that were willing to do low-paying jobs in SA. If locals were willing to do them, unemployment figures would come down. How could seasonality in tourism be overcome?
She noted that the presentation had not spoken about the impact that the weakening rand had on tourism. If it was cheap for foreigners to come to SA, how could tourist arrivals be boosted and in so doing create more jobs? The HSRC was also asked if they had done a study on the impact of festivals like Macufe and the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK) all over SA. A comparative study with recommendations would be useful to the Committee.
Mr Ngandu referred to attitudinal factors, and said that certain tourism jobs were deemed to be bad. The question remained how one regulated personal choices of people. In the United Kingdom it was a hot issue, as foreigners were seen to be crowding out locals in the job market. There was nevertheless reluctance by the British to work in low-paying jobs, and they rather accepted social welfare payouts. It was a perplexing issue. It was an area that needed further research. How could attitudinal factors in the hospitality industry and the challenge of seasonality be corrected? He said that these were complex issues. Some of the occupational outcomes were that women had maternal responsibilities, and hence could not take jobs. From a policy perspective it was difficult to come up with interventions. Why did people choose to be voluntarily unemployed? There was only so much that policy could do. People could not be forced to work. The UK and the US were dealing with the same issue. Locals tended to self-select jobs. A social dialogue was needed. Perhaps the Department of Social Development could come up with a solution.
He pointed out that there was a complex supply of learner education products out there. The industry preferred to train people in-house. One also had to consider the foreign supply of people. Further investigation was needed on the supply of graduates or trained persons.
Ms Booyens commented on how to support SMMEs, and said that money was not always the answer. The entrepreneurial culture in SA was weak. Creative thinking was needed. Business acumen had to be instilled. She noted that there were the Tourism Enterprise Partnership (TEP) programmes, but funding was an issue. The support given to SMMEs should be more efficient. There should be mentorships and business advice. It was not always about money. She was not sure whether the HSRC was communicating with SA Tourism. The research of the HSRC was different from that of SA Tourism. A centre was needed to bring together research in tourism. The HSRC was not the authority on research in SA.
On skills for the tourism industry, she conceded that it was a problem. A better understanding was needed to know what was required by the tourism industry. A conversation was needed between the tourism industry and tourism education.
On the matter of cross-provincial studies, she explained that the HSRC usually did research for a client. The HSRC did not select the research it wished to do. There was no dedicated group in the HSRC to perform tourism research. She did agree that provincial comparisons were needed. She agreed to send the Committee a research paper on township tourism. It would shed light on what tourists were looking for on township tourism. Tourists wished to experience heritage and culture, but there were not sufficient activities in the townships. More activities and attractions were needed in the townships.
The Chairperson asked whether the information presented had been sent to the National Department of Tourism (NDT). Had the HSRC been invited by the NDT to present its research findings? She felt that both the NDT and SA Tourism should invite the HSRC to present its tourism research findings. The HSRC did have a major role to play. The Committee would invite the HSRC to brief it again in the future on additional research to that which had been presented. She pointed out that new technology like Uber was becoming a problem. The HSRC was asked what its views on this were.
Mr Ngandu noted the comment on engagement with SA Tourism and the NDT. He said there had not been a study done on the impact of the weakening rand. The rand had been weakening because of the slowdown in China. SA’s exports were not doing well. It was a Catch 22 situation, because it was cheaper for tourists to come to SA. The impact of Uber on the industry had not yet translated into research. Significant innovation would cause disruptions. People in the taxi industry feared Uber. Nothing stopped them from adopting the same type of innovations as Uber had. Uber’s reach was spreading. In the US, 40% of all business travel was provided by Uber. He said that the HSRC did have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the NDT.
The meeting was adjourned.
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