Rural tourism development: progress report

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Meeting Summary

Briefing by the National Department of Tourism (NDT) on progress of rural tourism development
One of the goals for rural tourism development was to create a platform to share knowledge of best practice, development opportunities and challenges in rural areas for tourism development. The Rural Tourism Strategy called for the implementation of the following programmes:
Capacity Building and Skills Development
Efforts by the NDT included a local government induction project. The beneficiaries were municipal officials in Local Economic Development and Tourism Units, Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), local community representatives including traditional and political leadership within selected communities. The objective of the project was to provide an integrated approach on capacity building and create a platform for stakeholder engagement and information sharing for the public sector, private sector and communities focussing on rural municipalities
Enterprise Development
The NDT had developed a new approach to support SMMEs in tourism. An Enterprise Development and Transformation Unit had been established within the new organisational structure of the NDT. The Unit’s Enterprise Development Programme sought to provide business development and market access support in order to improve the sustainability and job creation potential of SSMEs in tourism.
Business Development and Market Access Support Programme
The purpose of the Programme was to establish the development needs of SMMEs and to deliver mainly non-financial support to enterprises through mentorship, training, market access exposure, coaching and networking opportunities. Provinces submitted databases of SMMEs that could be considered for the Programme to the NDT in line with the given selection criteria.
Tourism Incentive Programme
The Committee was provided with an overview of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) projects that the NDT had undertaken. Some of the pilot project sites identified were at Robben Island Museum (RIM), off-shore Cape Town, Western Cape; Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden (South African Nation Biodiversity Institute), Worcester, Western Cape; Free State National Botanical Garden (South African National Biodiversity Institute), Bloemfontein, Free State and Nkuhlu Picnic Site, Kruger National Park (South African National Parks), Mpumalanga.
Product Development (Destination Development)
The NDT presented its latest product development offerings to the Committee. The first was the construction of a new entrance gate for the Kruger National Park at Shangoni. The NDT had also funded the development and enhancement of the Phalaborwa Gate through the development of the Wild Activity Hub. The NDT also budgeted to enhance the Garden Route National Park through the development of the Tsitsikamma Big Tree Gateway. The NDT had conducted an audit of universal accessibility at four provincial parks. The recommendations of the audit would be used as a pilot for the next financial year.

The NDT was asked to provide the Committee in writing with information on what municipalities the NDT was engaging with on tourism development. An indication should be given of those that were doing well and of those that were not. Members asked what the plans of the NDT were on its Enterprise Development Awareness Campaign. Members asked to be provided with the plan after the Campaign had been finalised. Members felt that the Campaign should be extended to areas where traditional leaders were. The NDT was also asked whether provincial tourism departments had their own rural tourism strategy. From the briefing it did not seem that all provinces were fully covered. Members asked for additional information on the provincial spread of the NDT’s rural tourism strategy. Information on provincial spread of the types of businesses that were supported was also requested. Members felt strongly about support to SMMEs, especially SMMEs in the accommodation sector. If government was spending R10bn on accommodation and travel the NDT was asked whether this was taken into consideration in its strategy. Members suggested to the NDT that there could perhaps be some sort of NDT entity which could guide all departments and municipalities on what accommodation was out there to be used. The NDT was further asked for a breakdown of figures on capacity building in the provinces. Given the problem of market access for businesses the NDT was asked what it was doing to assist the less visited provinces on tourism development. Members pointed out the huge potential that existed around township tourism. Why could chefs coming out of the NDT’s chefs training programme not be placed in rural areas to hone their skills and provide a service. Surely people would not mind driving from urban to rural areas if the experience was expected to be worthwhile. There was a need to be creative and to think out of the box. Capacitated persons could be showcased in rural areas. The NDT was asked what methods it used to advertise its youth training programmes. The concern was that persons in rural areas did not have newspapers and there was no access to internet. Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) was concerned that there might be a problem in the Northern Cape as there was such bad uptake on the programmes of the NDT that was on offer. The programmes should be welcomed given the huge unemployment in the Northern Cape Province. He felt that perhaps the problem lied with the provincial department in the Northern Cape and asked the NDT to intervene and look into the matter. Members asked what the NDT’s plans were for the centenary birthday celebrations of Mr Nelson Mandela. On business development and marketing the NDT was asked why certain figures for the Mpumalanga Province were zero. What was the problem and how could things be turned around? In as much as skills development efforts by the NDT were appreciated members asked how persons for skills development programmes were recruited. Did only certain sectors of persons benefit or was recruitment done at grassroots level? The NDT was asked to provide the Committee with the recruitment policy that it used. Members asked how the NDT coordinated its efforts on women development with similar programmes by other government departments so as to prevent duplication. How did the programmes of the NDT contribute towards the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of SA? The NDT was asked to provide all the requested information to the Committee within 14 days.

Outstanding Committee minutes were adopted.
 

Meeting report

Minister of Tourism Ms Tokozile Xasa and Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe extended their apologies to the Committee for not being able to attend the meeting.

Briefing by the National Department of Tourism (NDT) on progress of rural tourism development
The delegation comprised of Ms Morongoe Ramphele Deputy Director General: Tourism Sector Support Services, Mr Myron Peter Chief Director: Tourism Enhancement, Mr Mathibele Mankge Director: Tourism B-BBEE Sector Transformation, Mr Bernhard Meyer Chief Director: Tourism Incentives Programme, Mr Tinyiko Chauke Director: Product Development (Destination Development) and Ms Petra van Niekerk Parliamentary Liaison Officer: Office of the Director General. Members of the delegation covered different aspects of the briefing.

One of the goals for rural tourism development was to create a platform to share knowledge of best practice, development opportunities and challenges in rural areas for tourism development. The Rural Tourism Strategy called for the implementation of the following programmes:

Capacity Building and Skills Development
The NDT undertook a local government induction project. The beneficiaries were municipal officials in Local Economic Development and Tourism Units, Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), local community representatives including traditional and political leadership within selected communities. The objective of the project was to provide an integrated approach on capacity building and create a platform for stakeholder engagement and information sharing for the public sector, private sector and communities focussing on rural municipalities. Detail was provided on the impact that the project had. The NDT also had youth training projects. The aim of the training was to train and develop the skills of young people in order to increase the pool of skilled labour force within the Tourism & Hospitality Industry. The projects undertaken were the National Youth Chefs Training Programme, the Youth in Hospitality Service Training Programme, Sommelier Training and/or Wine Service Programme, Food Safety Programme, Tourism Blue Flag Programme, Executive Women Development Programme, Tourist Guide Training Programme and the Energy Resource Efficiency Programme.

Enterprise Development
The NDT had developed a new approach to support SMMEs in tourism. An Enterprise Development and Transformation Unit had been established within the new organisational structure of the NDT. The Unit’s Enterprise Development Programme sought to provide business development and market access support in order to improve the sustainability and job creation potential of SSMEs in tourism. The common challenges faced by SMMEs were poor access to finance and credit; lack of access to markets; access to business related information; burdensome labour laws, regulatory compliance & inefficient government bureaucracy and finally unviable business operations. The Committee was provided with insight into the rollout of the Enterprise Development Plan and some detail on incubator projects undertaken.

Business Development and Market Access Support Programme
The purpose of the Programme was to establish the development needs of SMMEs and to deliver mainly non-financial support to enterprises through mentorship, training, market access exposure, coaching and networking opportunities. Provinces submitted databases of SMMEs to the NDT in line with the given selection criteria. On market access support for hidden gems a total of 354 applications were received, 284 were trained and 90 were selected. On skills development for hidden gems registered SMMEs were invited to attend a 5-day Tourism Operator Training Course hosted in each province. In advancing Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) and reducing the information gap there was a need to develop a reliable and credible database for tourism SMMEs in SA. The NDT merged two online information portals which would amongst others provide business related news and information on tourism to SMMEs. There was also an Enterprise Development Awareness Campaign to increase awareness of various business support products and instruments on offer.

Tourism Incentive Programme
The Committee was provided with an overview of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) projects that the NDT had undertaken. Substantial amount of preparatory work was required in the first year ie 2015/16 of this project. This included final site selection, appointment of technical advisors, determining the specific energy requirements of each site, identifying appropriate solution options for each site and developing technical specifications. This informed bid documentation that was used to procure the services of contractors to deliver turnkey solutions for each site. Some of the pilot project sites identified were at Robben Island Museum (RIM), off-shore Cape Town, Western Cape; Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden (South African Nation Biodiversity Institute), Worcester, Western Cape; Free State National Botanical Garden (South African National Biodiversity Institute), Bloemfontein, Free State and Nkuhlu Picnic Site, Kruger National Park (South African National Parks), Mpumalanga.

Product Development (Destination Development)
The NDT presented its latest product development offerings to the Committee. The first was where the NDT had provided R25m funding for the construction of a new entrance gate at Shangoni. The gate would provide access to the Kruger National Park from Giyani municipal area and create flexibility for visitors from neighbouring communities in the region to visit the Park. The NDT had also provided R25m for the development and enhancement of the Phalaborwa Gate through the development of the Wild Activity Hub. A further R15 840 000 was spent to enhance the Garden Route National Park through the development of the Tsitsikamma Big Tree Gateway which included tourism infrastructure such as an entrance gate, picnic area, coffee shop, parking area, activity centre, classroom, office block and ablution facilities. The NDT had conducted an audit of universal accessibility at four provincial parks. The recommendations of the audit would be used as a pilot for the next financial year.

Discussion
The Chairperson recalled that the Committee had visited a plant in 2017 during an oversight to Mpumalanga. After the visit the plant had entered into a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with the private sector. A person had bought the site with community involvement. The Committee had also engaged with the Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) on Economic Development. The Committee had visited the Zithabiseni Resort .The NDT was asked to provide the Committee in writing on which municipalities it was practically engaging in tourism development. An indication should be given of those that were doing well and of those that were not.

Ms Ramphele was not aware of the PPP that the Chairperson had mentioned. It was a good thing nonetheless and the NDT had for years asked for it to be done. The NDT would check on how far things had progressed. She noted that the NDT had assisted with the refurbishment of the Zithabiseni Resort. The NDT would continue to provide the Resort with non financial support.

Ms M Dikgale (ANC, Mpumalanga) asked what was being planned on the Enterprise Development Awareness Campaign. Could the Committee be provided with the plan after the Campaign had been finalised. She further asked that if the rollout was to be popularised through radio stations would traditional leaders be visited as well to make them aware of the Campaign.

Ms Ramphele said that the Enterprise Development Campaign had kicked off in Gauteng Province the week before. The NDT would share its Enterprise Development Awareness Programme with the Committee. The dates on awareness campaigns would be forwarded to traditional leaders via the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (DCOGTA).

Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked whether provincial tourism departments had their own rural tourism strategy. From the briefing it did not seem that all provinces were fully covered. The NDT was asked to provide the Committee with additional information on the provincial spread of its rural tourism strategy. He also asked for a provincial spread of the types of businesses that were supported. He pointed out that the Committee felt strongly about the support to Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), especially SMMEs in the accommodation sector. He said that Minister of Tourism Ms Tokozile Xasa had stated that a total of R10bn was spent by government on accommodation and travel. Did the NDT take this into consideration in its strategy? He said that perhaps there could be some sort of NDT entity which could guide all departments and municipalities on what accommodation was available for them to use.

Ms Ramphele said that at a conference held at Nasrec, Johannesburg the issue of a shortage of accommodation was identified. Alternatives to hotels being used were guesthouses. Homestays was also an option. She could not say whether there could be an entity at the NDT to deal with what available accommodation there were. She explained that the Rural Tourism Strategy was a national strategy. The NDT engaged both provinces and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) on it. Projects were aligned with those of the NDT. Provinces did not have their own rural tourism strategies.

The Chairperson asked that the NDT provide the Committee with the detail that had been requested.

Mr L Magwebu (DA, Eastern Cape) observed that it would seem as if provinces like the Eastern Cape and the North West were less visited. A great deal of statistics was provided on capacity building like for instance that 3900 young people had been trained in provinces. Members needed a breakdown of the figure in the provinces. Given the problem of businesses not having access to markets he asked what the NDT was doing to assist the less visited provinces on tourism development. He pointed out that in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape there was huge potential for township tourism as the place was buzzing over weekends. The NDT was asked why chefs that had completed their training could not go to rural areas to hone their skills and work there. He was sure that people would not mind driving from urban to rural areas if the experience was expected to be worthwhile. One needed to be creative and think out of the box. Persons who were capacitated could be showcased in rural areas.

Ms Ramphele responded that township tourism was low hanging fruit. She said that the NDT had done a needs assessment at Ekurhuleni. Soweto was also targeted. She explained that the Sommelier Chefs Programme was part of an Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) project. The intention was to make the trainees employable and even entrepreneurial. There was also an incubation programme for tour operators. She would provide the Committee with statistics on training in the provinces. Training was done on amongst others food safety, hospitality, blue flag beaches, and wine tasting.

Ms B Mathevula (EFF, Limpopo) on youth training programmes asked what methods were used to advertise the programmes. She pointed out that rural areas did not have access to newspapers and internet. She was pleased with developments at Shogani Gate.

Ms Ramphele said that there would be a nice link up with Shongani Gate.

Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) stated that he needed to know whether there was a problem in the Northern Cape Province. Why was there such a bad take up of the NDT’s programmes in the Province? The Northern Cape Province had so much to offer in the way of tourism. It was a concern since the Northern Cape had huge unemployment. He personally felt that the problem lay with the Provincial Department itself. He asked that the NDT look into the matter and intervene. The programmes were there but the people who needed it most did not take up on it. The NDT was asked what its 100 Madiba experiences celebrating Mr Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday were. The briefing had not spoken about it.

Ms Ramphele on the NDT’s efforts on the Mandela Centenary celebrations said that the programme had been sent to the Presidency in 2017 already. She noted that Minister Xasa had already launched activities in the Eastern Cape. The NDT had also aligned its programmes with Robben Island’s programmes. The NDT had no problem in providing the Committee with its schedule on what was planned and what was happening. On the training programmes that were on offer by the NDT 30% was theoretical training and 70% was practical. On getting persons onto programmes there was a need for employers to come on board as well. The problem in the Northern Cape Province was that there was no uptake of programmes on offer.

Mr M Mhlanga (ANC, Mpumalanga) on slide 42 on business development and marketing asked why the figure for Mpumalanga Province on hotels was zero. In addition why was the figure for tourist guides zero as well? He asked how things could be turned around. He was glad that skills development was taking place but was concerned about how candidates were being recruited. Did recruitment happen at grassroots level? He asked that the Committee be provided with the recruitment policy that was used. He asked when it came to women development whether the NDT took into consideration other efforts of government in order to prevent duplication. How did the programmes contribute towards the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of SA? The NDT was asked for a definition on “tourism economy”.

Ms Ramphele on enterprise development said that a programme was needed to respond to the needs of the industry. People coming out of learning institutions were mismatched with what was needed in the tourism industry. It was for this reason that the NDT met with institutions like Umalusi to discuss what should be on curricula. On women development the NDT targeted women in big hotels, SA Express and even car rental agencies. She was not too sure what the modules were that other government programmes offered. There was thus no alignment and perhaps it was something that needed to be looked at. On recruitment she said that municipalities had indigent registers that persons were recruited from. The NDT could access the registers as well. Newspaper advertisements were one way in which the NDT recruited people.

Mr Mhlanga on enterprise development felt that the NDT needed to coordinate its programmes with efforts by municipalities. Patterns of ownership were an issue that should also be addressed. People should have ownership.

The Chairperson asked that the Committee be provided with the requested information within 14 days. He wished to inform the NDT that due to the Committee’s hectic schedule members were not always able to attend NDT and SA Tourism functions to which the Committee was invited.

Committee Minutes
Minutes dated 14 February 2018 was adopted unamended.

Oversight visit to Limpopo Province
The Chairperson said that on its oversight visit to Limpopo Province it was important for the Committee to visit sites mentioned in the briefing. The site at Giyani was one of them.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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