National Department of Tourism Annual Report 2016/17, with Deputy Minister

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Meeting Summary

Annual Reports 2016/17

The National Department of Tourism briefed the Committee on its 2016/17 Annual Report.

Programme 1: Chief Operations Officer
All targets had been achieved for the period under review. The annual target for the review of the Strategic Plan and the Annual Performance Plan (APP) for 2017/18 had been reviewed. The annual target for the NDT’s vacancy rate was for it not to exceed 8%. Actual performance sat at 6.6%.
Programme 2: Policy and Knowledge Services
There were nineteen targets of which sixteen had been achieved. The remaining three targets were not achieved but significant progress on it had been made. Annual targets for two mobile phone applications to be developed one for tourist guides and one for Visitor Information Centres (VICs) had been achieved.
Programme 3: International Tourism Management
The annual target for the recruitment of tourist guides and frontline staff for language training in Russian and Mandarin had been met. The annual target to facilitate the international placement of twelve learner chefs had been surpassed with twenty learner chefs being facilitated. The annual target for the development of a Draft Tourism Investment Master Plan had been met.
Programme 4: Domestic Tourism Management
Of the seventeen targets a total of fourteen had been achieved, one had not been achieved and on two significant work had been done. The annual target of having the Domestic Tourism Growth Strategy reviewed had been achieved. The annual target was to have 300 youth enrolled in the Sommelier training course. Actual performance was that 300 youth learners had been recruited. Induction and placement was done in May 2017. The reason for the variance was that it had been difficult to get host employers for learners in the Northern Cape Province.


Detail was provided on the financial performance of the NDT for 2016/17. The NDT had received an unqualified audit report for the 2016/17 financial year. Total expenditure for 2016/17 sat at 95.5%.

The Deputy Minister stated that the Department had managed to achieve 89% of its targets for 2016/17 compared to 84% in 2015/16. Even though the budget of the NDT was not too great the NDT tried its best notwithstanding fiscal constraints. The NDT for 2016/17 had a clean administration and had obtained a clean audit outcome as it had in 2015/16.

The Committee appreciated the good work that the NDT was doing and congratulated it on obtaining an unqualified audit report from the Office of the Auditor General of SA (AGSA). The good work of the NDT needed to filter down to the provinces. Members were disappointed with the decline in domestic tourism figures. The Committee noted the importance of township tourism and the township economy. There was huge potential. The matter of the township economy had been raised with the Minister. Members were pleased that the NDT had launched cellphone applications. The NDT was asked what the problem was around the bad uptake of youth programmes in the Northern Cape. Was the problem with the Northern Cape Provincial Department? Members were concerned about crime in SA. It was amongst the highest in the world. How could the problem of crime be overcome? Did the Minister of Tourism meet with the Minister of Police? A further concern was that the socio-economic discrepancy in SA was also one of the highest in the world. If the socio-economic discrepancy was reduced then crime would automatically fall. Members had received complaints that mandarin speaking Chinese tourist guides trained in SA was not being issued work permits by the Department of Home Affairs. The Chairperson explained that the immigration law in SA was such that a work permit would only be granted to a foreigner if there was no South African with that skill in that job. The reality was that jobs for locals could not be sacrificed in favour of foreigners. Complaints had also been received around the ill treatment of foreigners at restaurants in SA. Members disclosed that annually government departments in total spent R10bn on travelling between Cape Town and Pretoria. It was a huge sum of money. The figure increased annually. Members questioned why members of parliament and officials did not stay in townships when they travelled. The NDT was asked whether there was a domestic programme for government and parliament to stay in townships. Members observed that there seemed to be no improvement in transformation in the sector. What was the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Charter Council doing to promote transformation in the sector? The NDT was asked why national parks like the Kruger National Park fell under the Department of Environmental Affairs. The NDT was asked to provide the Committee with provincial figures on market access, tourism grading, domestic tourism and energy efficiency. Members noted that in 2011 President Jacob Zuma had called on government departments to empower military veterans. How did the NDT cater for military veterans? On domestic tourism the NDT was asked about its efforts on revolutionary routes. Members felt that the Makuya Nature Reserve should be included in one of the programmes of the NDT. Intermittent electricity supply was just one of the problems at the Makuya Nature Reserve. Deputy Minister Thabethe was asked to raise the matter with Eskom. Members longed for tourism in SA to be indigenised. Local South Africans did not even get to see tourist sites in SA which foreign tourists saw. It was an issue which needed to be addressed. Due to time constraints the NDT was asked to provide the Committee with written responses to questions that had not been answered.
 

Meeting report

Apologies were extended to the Committee for the absence of Minister of Tourism Ms Tokozile Xasa not being able to attend the meeting.

Opening remarks by Deputy Minister of Tourism
Ms Elizabeth Thabethe, Deputy Minister of Tourism, said the National Department of Tourism (NDT) had managed to achieve 89% of its targets for 2016/17 compared to 84% in 2015/16. The Domestic Enhancement Project had been implemented at Robben Island. The NDT had supported Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) and had entered into agreements with partners in the Seychelles for the placement of 20 chefs in terms of its chef’s programme. The Executive Development Programme for women at the University of Pretoria had been implemented. There was also a growth trajectory on tourist arrivals. She was however concerned about the results of the baseline study into transformation in the sector. Transformation in the sector was low even though the sector was growing. A further concern was the decline in domestic tourism figures. Everyone at the Ministry and the NDT was committed to the task that it had been assigned to do. She hoped that the performance of the NDT was acceptable to the Committee. Even though the budget of the NDT was not too great the NDT tried its best notwithstanding fiscal constraints. The NDT for 2016/17 had a clean administration and had obtained a clean audit outcome as it had in 2015/16. She appreciated the good working relationship with the Committee.

Remarks by Director-General
Mr Victor Tharage, Director General, NDT, conceded that the NDT was only as good as the leadership which it received from its political principals. He spoke about the NDT’s efforts on the retro fitment of energy provision at Robben Island. Eskom had not per se provided electricity to Robben Island. Robben Island had always used diesel generators. The retro fitment intervention was currently making savings of R17 000 per day. So there was real impact to the NDT‘s efforts. Other improvements on Robben Island included the revamping of its restaurant. Locals from the surrounding Cape Town area were also exclusive suppliers of memorabilia at the Robben Island gift shop.

Briefing by National Department of Tourism (NDT)
The delegation comprised of the aforementioned Mr Tharage, Ms Morongoe Ramphele Deputy Director General: Tourism Sector Support Services, Ms Aneme Malan Deputy Director General: Tourism Research, Policy and International Relations, Ms Shamilla Chettiar Deputy Director General: Destination Development, Ms Lulama Duma Deputy Director General: Corporate Management, Mr Ralph Ackerman Chief Financial Officer(CFO), Ms Nomzamo Bhengu Chief Director: Strategy and Systems and Ms Petra van Niekerk Parliamentary Liaison Officer : Office of the Director General. Deputy Director Generals spoke to the performance of their respective Programmes.

Programme 1: Chief Operations Officer
Ms Lulama Duma, Deputy Director General: Corporate Management, NDT, stated that all targets had been achieved for the period under review. The annual target for the review of the Strategic Plan and the Annual Performance Plan (APP) for 2017/18 had been reviewed. The annual target for the NDT’s vacancy rate was for it not to exceed 8%. Actual performance sat at 6.6%. The annual target on women representation at senior management service level was 50%, for people with disabilities it was not to fall below 3% and for black representation not to fall below 91.5%. The actual performance as at 31 March 2017 was 50.7%, 4.6% and 95.2% respectively. The annual target of having the Draft Tourism Amendment Bill submitted for approval had been achieved. In addition 100% of tourist complaints had been referred to appropriate authorities for resolution within agreed timeframes.

Programme 2: Policy and Knowledge Services
Ms Shamilla Chettiar, Deputy Director General: Destination Development, NDT, stated that there were 19 targets of which 16 had been achieved. The remaining three targets were not achieved but significant progress on it had been made. Annual targets for the implementation of a tourist guide training programme for new entrants and for the development of a Continuous Professional Development programme had been achieved. The annual target for the development of a Draft Product Development Master plan had also been achieved. Annual targets for two mobile phone applications to be developed one for tourist guides and one for Visitor Information Centres (VICs) had been achieved. The annual target for the finalisation of a study to be conducted to establish a baseline for the amended tourism Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) sector code had not been met. To date the study had been completed.

Programme 3: International Tourism Management
Ms Aneme Malan, Deputy Director General: Tourism Research, NDT, said that the annual target for the recruitment of tourist guides and frontline staff for language training in Russian and Mandarin had been met. The annual target to facilitate the international placement of twelve learner chefs had been surpassed with twenty learner chefs being facilitated. The annual target for the development of a Draft Tourism Investment Master Plan had been met. However the annual target for the finalisation of accreditation of travel companies for visa facilitation had not been met. The corrective measure taken by the NDT was for the implementation of the accreditation of travel companies’ programme to be done on an ad hoc basis. The annual target for the hosting of a ministerial session at the 2016 Tourism Indaba had been done in May 2016.

Programme 4: Domestic Tourism Management
Ms Morongoe Ramphele, Deputy Director General: Tourism Sector Support Services, NDT, noted that of the seventeen targets a total of fourteen had been achieved, one had not been achieved and on two significant work had been done. The annual target of having the Domestic Tourism Growth Strategy reviewed had been achieved. In addition the annual target of having 100 rural enterprises supported for development had been met. The implementation of the chefs training programme targeting 577 trainees had also been done. The annual target was to have 300 youth enrolled in the Sommelier training course. Actual performance was that 300 youth learners had been recruited. Induction and placement was done in May 2017. The reason for the variance was that it had been difficult to get host employers for learners in the Northern Cape Province. The annual target of having 2000 youth enrolled in the hospitality service training programme had been surpassed with the actual figure being 2003.

Mr Ralph Ackerman, CFO, NDT, spoke to the financial performance of the NDT for 2016/17. The NDT had received an unqualified audit report for the 2016/17 financial year. Total expenditure for 2016/17 sat at 95.5%. As previously stated the NDT had also achieved 89.06% of its targets.

Concluding remarks by Deputy Minister Thabethe
Deputy Minister Thabethe added that not only were 20 students on the chef’s programme sent to the Seychelles but that 14 had gone to the USA as well. Students got exposure abroad and found employment. There was therefore job creation on buddy’s training and on chef’s training. 70% of the courses were practical and 30% was theory. 60% of students had been absorbed into the tourism industry with 40% being unemployed. Those who were unemployed were encouraged to become entrepreneurs. Some of the students had been sent to the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA). Around 60-80 of the students had been placed on cruise ships. With SA’s unemployment rate sitting at 27.7% it was important to translate training into employment.

Discussion
Mr L Magwebu (DA, Eastern Cape) stated that both the NDT and SA Tourism had raised issues around the decline in domestic tourism figures. There were various reasons for the decline and the recent economic meltdown was just one of them. He appreciated the good work that was being done by the NDT. The NDT had invested a great deal in iconic sites. He pointed out that there were also many activities in townships for tourists to enjoy. It was all about destination marketing companies that should come on board. SA Tourism had said that they were looking into the matter of marketing township tourism. Package deals should be on offer. He asked that the NDT expedite the matter of township tourism. Responsible tourism would also be factored in.

Deputy Minister Thabethe said that she liked the spirit of members to deal with challenges. She said that members seemed to be passionate about the rural and township economy moving. Mr Magwebu had in a previous meeting asked why could there not be something like the Vilakazi Street attraction in East London. She agreed with the sentiments expressed. The National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) as revised was being finalised. She said that it was a fact that tourists wished to experience township and rural life. Tourists wanted to eat the food and experience the life in townships and rural areas. The NDT was making an effort with the programmes that it had. Some things worked and others did not. As a result the NDT had started incubators. It was realised that new products were needed. The NDT also worked with the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) for people to be given grants.

Mr Tharage on domestic tourism said that there was the issue of accessibility that needed to be addressed. On the convention space side of things more could be done. The NDT intended to strengthen operators that found themselves in the rural and township space. Tour operating licences on the business side of things could be expedited.

Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) also appreciated the good work that the NDT was doing. He was quite excited about the fact that the NDT had created an application for cellphones. He asked whether the application was free for tourist guides. He noted that on mandarin training he had spoken to the owner of the Longstone Training Academy who complained that when Chinese people went through the process of successfully becoming tourist guides they were not given work visas by the Department of Home Affairs. The briefing had alluded to the fact that there was bad uptake on youth programmes that the NDT offered in the Northern Cape. He asked where the problem was. Was it with the Northern Cape Provincial Department? He agreed that township tourism needed to take off. He was however concerned about the issue of crime. How could the problem of crime be overcome? Did the Minister of Tourism have discussions with the Minister of Police? The hearts of tourists needed to be won over to visit townships.

Deputy Minister Thabethe, on crime, explained that there was an Inter-Ministerial Committee that dealt with these types of issues. The NDT also worked with the Department of Home Affairs on the visa regulations issue. After the incident where tourists had been robbed in a township Minister Xasa had met with the Minister of Police to issue a press statement. The Inter-Ministerial Committee was concentrating on the security and economic sector. Some of the issues were inter linked. Issues were being taken to a higher level.

The Chairperson on the issue of the trained Chinese tourist guides said that immigration law in SA only granted a work permit if there was no South African with that skill in that job. There were concerns around the ill treatment of foreigners who were employed in restaurants in SA. However jobs for locals could not be sacrificed in favour of foreigners.

Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) disagreed with Mr Faber that most of the muggings took place in cities and not in townships. He stated that he had raised the matter of the township economy with the Minister of Tourism. He had asked the Minister of Tourism how much money was spent by all government departments in total when travelling between Pretoria and Cape Town annually. Minister Xasa had come up with a figure of R10bn. He said that members could imagine how high the figure could still be if one included the travelling of provincial departments between municipalities. Why did members of parliament and officials not stay in townships? The NDT was asked whether there was a domestic programme for government and parliament to stay in townships. He observed that there seemed to be no improvement in transformation in the sector. What was the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Charter Council doing to promote transformation in the sector? He asked on domestic tourism why he no longer saw adverts on television about the Sho’t Left Campaign. The NDT was asked why SA’s national parks like the Kruger National Park fell under the Department of Environmental Affairs. He asked that the NDT provide it with provincial figures on market access, tourism guiding, domestic tourism and energy efficiency. Figures had been fleetingly provided during the briefing but members would appreciate it being provided.

Deputy Minister Thabethe agreed that all of government including members of parliament should use guesthouses and bed & breakfasts. There were hidden gems. The only problem with the smaller establishments was that they were sometimes fully booked. She herself used bed & breakfasts and guesthouses. One such place that she had used in Bloemfontein was a five star establishment called Ashwood. The service had been excellent. These types of establishments should be supported. The problem was that South Africans did not visit places like South African National Parks (SANParks). She confirmed that national parks fell under the Department of Environmental Affairs. The NDT worked with the Department of Environmental Affairs.

Mr Tharage confirmed that there was R10bn in overall state expenditure on transport. This amount increased on an annual basis. He said that the NDT’s broad strategy did recognise attractions as either being nature, heritage or of a cultural nature. Parks did not necessarily fall within the NDT’s space. Government as a collective needed to strengthen the space. The Department of Environmental Affairs had to ensure that parks had the animals and plants that people expected to see. It was the NDT’s task to market the area. It was all about collaboration. The NDT had worked closely with the Department of Arts and Culture on Robben Island. More black Africans were visiting parks and gardens. South African National Parks (SANParks) had reviewed its strategy to accommodate more blacks since demand had grown.

Mr Y Vawda (EFF, Mpumalanga) congratulated the NDT on obtaining an unqualified audit report from the Office of the Auditor General of SA (AGSA). Such good work needed to filter down to provinces as well. A great deal of administrative work was also done at local level. Good performance should be across the board. He noted that he would have liked to see what was specifically happening in the different provinces. The NDT was asked how it defined international, domestic and business tourists and how it targeted each of them. Addressing Deputy Minister Thabethe he stated that he was concerned about crime in SA. It was amongst the highest in the world. The socio-economic discrepancy in SA was also one of the highest in the world. If the socio-economic discrepancy was reduced then crime would fall.

Deputy Minister Thabethe responded that SA provided social grants to people to assist them. She conceded that more could be done as there were still pockets of poverty. A total of 17m people were supported with social grants. Government was spending a considerable amount of funds to deal with socio-economic issues. SA was becoming a developmental state. The issue should be about how to assist people to fend for themselves. SA’s Apartheid past did hamper things.

Mr Tharage said that the NDT tracked the numbers of international tourists. Business tourists came to SA on business but sometimes they put aside time for leisure activities. The NDT had received funding from National Treasury to strengthen its business events strategy. In 2020 there was to be an ophthalmologists convention in SA where 19 000 people were expected. The event would bring in a great deal of revenue to SA. Whatever event could bring people to SA should be targeted. On the international side the NDT focussed on the African Diaspora, the African continent and the Middle East. There were great opportunities out there.

Mr M Mhlanga (ANC, Mpumalanga) addressing Deputy Minister Thabethe said that in 2011 President Jacob Zuma had called on all government departments to empower military veterans. How did the NDT cater for military veterans? Legislation demanded that military veterans be empowered. On domestic tourism the NDT was asked about its efforts on revolutionary routes.

Deputy Minister Thabethe said that on the training of tourist guides military veterans could be accommodated. She agreed that all government departments needed to assist military veterans.

Mr Tharage noted the issue around military veterans. There was not yet a dedicated programme on it. The NDT had done a little bit of piloting on the liberation route. So yes there was some work on it.

Ms M Dikgale (ANC, Limpopo) noted that on a recent visit to Nigeria she had felt very safe. Security had been very tight. On domestic tourism she noted that she had visited the Makuya Nature Reserve near the Zimbabwe border. She felt that the Mkuya Nature Reserve should be included in one of the programmes of the NDT. Intermittent supply of electricity at the Nature Reserve was a huge problem. She asked Deputy Minister Thabethe to speak to Eskom. In addition fencing was also needed at the Nature Reserve.

Deputy Minister Thabethe stated that there was a great deal that could be learnt. The NDT had just launched tourism monitors in Soweto which looked at safety of tourists’ issues. Community Policing Forums (CPFs) were taken on board. The tourism monitors was a pilot project started in Gauteng Province but would be extended to other provinces as well. She pointed out that crime was everywhere in the world. In SA only the bad things were broadcasted and not the good. She gave an example of an incident where three South African councillors had been mugged in London some years back but there was nothing on the front pages of newspapers in London. However SA still remained a country which tourists wished to visit. The incident with the Dutch tourists was also unfortunate. A collective effort was needed to deal with these types of issues.

Mr Tharage on the “We Do Tourism” Campaign said that everyone had a responsibility. Everybody had a role to play. Engagement with CPF’s had to take place. Crime was a global phenomenon. He spoke about the recent shooting on scores of people by a lone gunman in Las Vegas. He noted the issues raised and said issues around sustainability would be looked at in the broader sense.

Mr B Nthebe (ANC, North West) also addressing Deputy Minister Thabethe said that political leadership was a propeller. He was longing for when tourism in SA would be indigenised. Local South Africans did not even get to see tourism sites in SA which foreign tourists saw. He asked that the matter be addressed.

Deputy Minister Thabethe had a five in five strategy. The idea was to bring in 5m tourists within 5 years ie 4m international and 1m local tourists.

Mr Tharage wished to clarify two issues. The first was about the R52.1 request to National Treasury for rollover of funds. He explained that the site identified for a project had endangered species of plants on it and hence was a protected site. It had taken time to find an alternative site and hence the rollover was requested. The NDT had been disciplined about not using the funds. The second issue was that a year ago the NDT had decided to start forensic investigations of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) projects. The GTech had been tasked with doing the review. The process had now been concluded.

The Chairperson in the interest of time asked that the NDT provide written responses within seven days to questions that remained unanswered.

Committee Minutes
Minutes dated 18 October 2017 was adopted as amended.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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