The Committee was presented with an overview of the Committee’s observations and recommendations as contained in the Draft Report on the budget allocation for Vote 33: Tourism. Members noted that the budget was insufficient and needed to be increased, SA needed a tourist friendly visa regime and immigration regulations as tourists were put off as things stood at present, improvement on and the prioritisation of legislation, policy and strategy formulation was needed to keep up with emerging trends in global tourism and there also needed to be improvement on the collection and collation of tourism statistics to ensure credible and useful measurement of the impact of tourism. Inputs by members were encouraged and would be incorporated into the Draft Report.
The Committee adopted the Draft Report as amended inclusive of inputs made by Members.
Consideration of the Committee’s Draft Report on Budget Vote No 33: Tourism
The Acting Chairperson placed the Draft Report before the Committee for consideration. She asked the Committee Content Adviser Dr Sibusiso Khuzwayo to take the Committee through the Draft Report.
Dr Khuzwayo noted that Members were well aware with the contents of the Draft Report as the Annual Performance Plan (APP) information had been previously presented to the Committee by the National Department of Tourism (NDT) and South African Tourism (SAT). He proceeded to highlight the Committee’s observations and recommendations as reflected in the Draft Report.
Committee observations with regard to the NDT included:
- The budget for Vote 33: Tourism had been increased but it still fell short on what was needed to properly drive the sector.
- The Committee observed that the Communication Strategy of the NDT was not working as it should as communities were not fully aware of the bouquet of programmes that the NDT had on offer.
- On legislation, policy and strategy formulation the Committee was concerned that to date the Tourism Amendment Bill had not yet been submitted to Parliament. Nor was the introduction of the Bill a target in the 2018/19 APP of the NDT. This meant that the NDT was not taking current trends and technological achievements that were disrupting the sector seriously. For instance there was a need to regulate AirBnB in order for it to be safe for use by users.
- On ease of access, international travellers were put off by the continuous inconvenience caused by immigration regulations and the visa regime in SA.
- The Committee remained concerned with the uncoordinated manner of collecting and collating tourism statistics in SA.
Committee observations with regard to South African Tourism included:
- The Committee was concerned about SAT having completed the first year of its 5-in-5 strategy and already having a deficit of 614 000. The strategy intended to bring in five million tourists within five years ie four million international and one million local tourists. No innovative ways were presented to the Committee to make up the difference.
- On domestic tourism, the Committee observed a new trend where less South Africans were travelling but more was being spent. It was apparent that the majority of South Africans could not afford to travel. Domestic tourism it seemed was becoming an elitist activity.
- On the use of consultants the Committee was concerned that SAT continued to use consultants in the execution of daily activities, especially on Information Technology (IT) related services.
- The Committee observed with concern that the tourism grading scheme in SA seemed to be failing.
Consolidated Committee Recommendations aimed at the Minister of Tourism included:
- That the Minister of Tourism continues to engage National Treasury to increase the budget allocation of the Tourism Vote.
- Improvement on and the prioritisation of legislation, policy and strategy formulation to keep up with emerging trends in global tourism.
- The Minister of Tourism needed to engage NDT to improve on its communication strategy especially with regard to programmes it had on offer.
- There needed to be improvement on the collection and collation of tourism statistics to ensure credible and useful measurement of the impact of tourism.
- On ease of access, the Minister of Tourism needed to continuously engage the Minister of Home Affairs to have tourist friendly immigration regulations and visa regime. E-Visa facilitation had to be expedited and a report on progress had to be furnished to the Committee within six months of receiving this Report.
- The Minister of Tourism had to monitor the implementation of the 5-in-5 strategy to ensure increase in international arrivals and domestic trips.
- The use of consultants had to be minimised and that skilled youth should be employed to perform the work done by consultants.
Mr J Vos (DA) was pleased with the recommendations proposed but wished to make an addition. In as much as the Minister of Tourism needed to engage with the Minister of Home Affairs on visa and immigration regulation issues and with National Treasury on budget allocation increases he felt that the Minister of Cooperative Governance had to be engaged too on product development and destination marketing. There was a lack of municipal investment in tourism products at local level. Funds had to be set aside for tourism development in townships etc.
Ms P Adams (ANC) added that the Minister of Tourism should also engage the Minister of Transport on accessibility to tourist sites and also on road signage leading up to sites.
The Acting Chairperson said that the inputs made by Members would be captured in the recommendations contained in the Draft Report. She placed the Draft Report before the Committee for adoption.
The Committee adopted the Draft Report as amended inclusive of inputs made by members.
Mr T Rhawula (EFF) stated that on behalf of the EFF he noted the Draft Report.
Mr Vos added that the DA agreed with the observations and supported the recommendations as contained in the Draft Report. The DA would at the Budget Vote No 33: Tourism debate make further additions.
The Chairperson in conclusion stated that the observations and recommendations were those of the Committee made during Committee meetings.
The meeting was adjourned.
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