Committee Report on Tourism Budget


21 April 2016
Chairperson: Ms B Ngcobo (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Documents handed out:
Committee Report on Tourism Budget 

The Committee Content Adviser presented the Committee Report on the Department Budget and focused on the Observations and Recommendations. Members were invited to make any changes and additions they deemed appropriate to what was presented. Members beefed up some of the recommendations in line with what was contained in Observations of the Committee. The Committee accepted the changes made and the Committee Report on the Tourism Budget Vote No 33 was adopted as amended by the Committee.

Meeting report

Committee Report on Tourism Budget Vote No 33
The Committee Content Adviser, Dr Sibusiso Khuzwayo, highlighted the Committee Report sections dealing with Observations and Recommendations.

Committee Observations on National Department of Tourism (NDT):
- There were non-financial factors that contributed towards the poor performance of the sector. These included internal factors under the purview of the NDT and external factors beyond its control that should however be coordinated by the NDT.
- Despite good programmes presented to the Committee from time to time there were still challenges with regard to cooperative governance and implementation of programmes at a local constituency level.
- 83.3% of the budget appropriated to Programme 2 was transferred to SA Tourism. The NDT should have proper controls in place to ensure that the budget allocated to SA Tourism was used appropriately as it took up a large portion of funds appropriated to Vote 33: Tourism

Committee Observations on SA Tourism:
- On SA Tourism country offices, the model for its operation had proven to be expensive and not cost effective. The Committee however commended SA Tourism for implementing a hub strategy which would use virtual offices and ensure that one office in the region serviced a number of markets/countries.
- There were numerous challenges plaguing the grading scheme of the Tourism Grading Council of SA (TGCSA) and there needed to be a policy review to investigate, amongst others, whether grading should be free but compulsory. The Tourism Act currently outlined grading as a voluntary scheme.
- The Committee had over the years raised concerns about the waning impact of the Tourism Indaba. This was perhaps due to the format of the show, quality of buyers, value for money for participants and the lack of tourism research/seminars in the Indaba. The Committee was pleased that SA Tourism had started the process of taking on a partner to assist with the planning and coordination of the Tourism Indaba.
- On ease of travel in an update provided by the Minister of Tourism, the Committee noted that Brazilians did not need visas and the Minister of Home Affairs recently announced that Russians who wished to travel to SA for leisure reasons would be exempt from visa requirements too. This was a new dispensation and would address the difficulty of travelling from Russia which had been a large visa-requiring geographical area. Further, the accreditation of tour operators was no longer a requirement from visa exempt countries for leisure tourists. In China the need for in person applications was no longer a challenge as all tour operators were accredited. Persons wishing to travel to travel to SA as leisure tourists could now apply for their visas through accredited tour operators. It was noted that the same applied to persons from India. The only problem with India was the capacity of the Department of Home Affairs to process visa applications. The Committee welcomed the Cabinet announcement that the Department of Home Affairs would be exempting travellers from the Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA (BRICS) countries who held visas from countries such as the US, UK, a Schengen visa and all other countries which applied stringent visa application processes. These tourists would be issued with visas on arrival. The Committee noted that this was only a policy statement at the time and not a decision taken as yet. It was however a matter given serious attention by Cabinet. The one outstanding matter from the Inter Ministerial Committee recommendations was the amendment to the Immigration Regulations that dealt with the requirement of the unabridged birth certificate, especially from visa exempt countries.
- On the SA National Conventions Bureau (SANCB) maximising interventions, the Committee was concerned that activities were mostly concentrated around the three major cities of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. The Committee was aware that the average business event hosted 700-800 delegates and that not all cities in SA had the capacity to host an event that size. The Committee would be conducting close oversight on the SANCB to monitor whether smaller meetings were hosted in smaller towns or only in big cities. The SANCB had after all made a commitment to the Committee that in 2016 it would be hosting some events in Mpumalanga and Grahamstown in order to address challenges of geographical spread and seasonality.

Committee Recommendations:
-The NDT had to devise innovative ways of ensuring that they implement their Human Resources Strategy within the confines of the compensation of employee budget approved by National Treasury without compromising service delivery and the mandate of the NDT.
- The NDT should ensure proper planning for projects and that partner organisations implementing projects on behalf of the NDT adhere to agreed timeframes to avoid delays in the implementation of projects and achieving targets in the Annual Performance Plan.
- The NDT was urged to work closely with other government departments and agencies through intergovernmental structures and professional fora to unblock hindrances with regard to providing signage to major tourist attractions throughout the country and report to the Committee within six months of adoption of this Report on progress made in this regard.
- The Minister made a clarion call within Cabinet for speedy and holistic implementation of the Inter Ministerial Committee (IMC) recommendations to resolve all outstanding visa related issues, including the requirement for unabridged birth certificates to ease travel and increase tourist arrivals to the country. NDT should report to the Committee within three months of adoption of this Report on progress made.
- SA Tourism to finalise negotiations with National Treasury and other partners on the final solution to mitigate currency losses and report to the Committee within six months of the adoption of the present Report on progress made.
- The Tourism Grading Council of SA to conduct a policy review of its mandate as espoused in the Tourism Act and present the policy proposals to the Committee during the legislative review process.
- The SA National Conventions Bureau to provide a quarterly breakdown of the 138 meetings planned for 2016/17 and specify the expected number of delegates and revenue to be generated by each meeting; indicate in which provinces, cities or towns the meetings would be held; and submit this addendum to the Committee when SA Tourism came for the first quarter reporting for the 2016/17 financial year.
- The Minister of Tourism to consider a policy review on the Tourism Marketing SA (TOMSA) Levy collection and investigate possibilities of a compulsory tourism tax during the proposed legislative review.

The Chairperson invited members to make additions to the recommendations or to edit existing ones.

Mr J Vos (DA) referred to the Committee Observation on SA Tourism and ease of travel and visa regulations. The observation spoke about the exemptions that applied to BRICS countries. The Committee recommendation which spoke about a progress report to the Committee on progress made by the IMC on visa regulations and the requirement of an unabridged birth certificate for children, should include this. He also noted that the recommendation which spoke to the Minister of Tourism needing to do a policy review on the TOMSA levy collection and to investigate possibilities of a compulsory tourism tax, gave the impression that it was a decision that had been taken. He was not convinced that the use of the wording, “compulsory tourism tax” was correct and asked that it be changed. He suggested something along the lines of, why could other mechanisms to raise tourism levies not be considered. He felt that the tourism industry should not be suffocated. He further pointed out that the recommendation to the SANCB as it stood was only to provide the Committee with a quarterly report on the breakdown of meetings to be held for 2016/17. The observation of the Committee on the SANCB however highlighted the need for the SANCB to take geographical spread into consideration when hosting events. He therefore said that a recommendation speaking to a plan to ensure geographical spread would be appropriate.

The Committee supported the suggestions made by Mr Vos and asked the Committee Support Staff to incorporate the changes made into the Draft Report.

The Committee adopted the Draft Report as amended.

The meeting was adjourned.


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