Department of Tourism progress & interventions to stimulate domestic tourism

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Meeting Summary

The National Department of Tourism (NDT) and SA Tourism briefed the Committee on progress and interventions to stimulate domestic tourism.

The challenge at hand was SA’s lack lustre domestic tourism performance and on how to grow domestic tourism on the back of tough economic conditions in SA. The NDT had done a Domestic Tourism Growth Strategy Review (2016/17) the objective of which was to create a robust domestic tourism economy by 2030 by making affordable and compelling tourism experiences accessible for the domestic tourism market. Based on the outcome of the review the NDT identified focus areas the first of which was to develop a framework for supporting tour operators to facilitate domestic tourism with an emphasis on previously disadvantaged groups. Secondly, to develop a Social Tourism Scheme (STS) that would enable travel and tourism participation by people with modest income. The domestic tourism strategy also tried to address transformation in the tourism sector. Domestic Tourism Marketing Campaigns had been activated by SA Tourism. To inform the Domestic Market Strategy a deeper analysis was done of SA’s population to identify the insights that would help SA Tourism promote domestic holiday travel. Unfortunately, only 10% of SA’s population could afford to travel. Increasing taxes, unemployment, shrinking disposable income coupled with concerns over safety and security had negatively impacted domestic tourism in recent years. One of the biggest barriers to promoting domestic holiday travel was lack of infrastructure. There needed to be well maintained infrastructure if people were to enjoy affordable holiday trips locally. Most domestic tourists travelled by road (cars, taxis and buses) and hence roads had to be well maintained. Some of the efforts by SA Tourism included radio campaigns, having holiday and travel expos, television campaigns and stokvel activations. All stakeholders were taken on board including provinces.

The Committee appreciated the efforts of the NDT and SA Tourism. Members felt that at the end of the day the major consideration on deciding whether or not to travel was cost ie the cost of travelling, the cost of accommodation etc. The cost of travel in SA was far too expensive. With tourism in general and domestic tourism specifically there was a need to promote experiences in SA. At present this was not done. Members as representatives of their provinces had to sell their provinces’ experiences. Budget resorts had at one time been very popular in SA. These resorts were no longer frequented. It was an affordable option for the ordinary South African. The recession in SA coupled with crime prevented people from travelling. The ever increasing price of fuel also did not help. SA Tourism was asked what the timeframe for the completion of the framework to support tour operators was. Would the framework be accessible to tour operators who wished to enter the sector? Members also asked for an update on the progress on Destination Marketing Companies (DMCs). Members observed that the presentation had identified infrastructure as a barrier but that it had stopped short on what action was being taken. The Committee was however aware that safety and infrastructure did not fall within the ambit of the NDT and SA Tourism. Members proposed that a multifaceted approach be followed. Road infrastructure was important for access to tourist sites. If roads were in a bad state then it was a barrier to travel. All stakeholders needed to get involved to deal with infrastructure and safety matters. Members asked that rural areas form part of efforts on domestic tourism. People in rural areas should be shown that there was more to life than what they knew. Members felt it important to involve municipalities and provincial governments on domestic tourism. Even traditional leaders should be taken on board. Cooperation was what was needed. The problem was that South Africans did not visit other provinces. What efforts were made around school kids? Kids today only knew their own areas. They needed to be exposed to the rest of SA and new experiences. Members were interested to know what SA Tourism’s efforts around stokvels were. Members identified transformation of the sector as a huge challenge. Domestic tourism held huge potential if it was gotten right. Business needed to come to the party. Had discussions with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) taken place? Did municipalities prioritise tourism? Members were concerned about the lack of exchange of information amongst provincial authorities. It seemed as though they were rather competing with one another. Was the matter being addressed? Members observed that if taxi operators and tour operators had to apply for the same permit it meant that the waiting times were the same. It too was a matter that needed to be looked into. Perhaps the applications of tour operators could be speeded up if the NDT provided a supporting letter. 

Meeting report

Briefing by National Department of Tourism (NDT) and SA Tourism on progress and interventions to stimulate domestic tourism
Ms Maylene Broderick, Chief Director: Enterprise Development and Transformation, NDT, said that the challenge was SA’s lack lustre domestic tourism performance and on how to grow domestic tourism on the back of tough economic conditions in SA. The NDT had done a Domestic Tourism Growth Strategy Review (2016/17) the objective of which was to create a robust domestic tourism economy by 2030 by making affordable and compelling tourism experiences accessible for the domestic tourism market. A Domestic Tourism Unit was also established. Some of the findings of the Review were that actions from the current strategy had been partially implemented due to lack of dedicated focus. The prioritisation of tourism by government was only from an international arrivals perspective. There were also different research methodologies between SA Tourism and Statistics SA. Affordability was a barrier and there was a need to expose those with limited means to travel. Current resorts had to be upgraded to cater for the tastes of the new traveller. Consequently, the NDT identified focus areas the first of which was to develop a framework for supporting tour operators to facilitate domestic tourism with an emphasis on previously disadvantaged groups. Secondly, to develop a Social Tourism Scheme (STS) that would enable travel and tourism participation by people with modest income. The NDT had come up with a Tourism Month Programme which was coordinated under a Project Steering Committee which consisted of SA Tourism and other tourism sector stakeholders. The domestic tourism strategy also tried to address transformation in the tourism sector.

Ms Batwanda Simelane, Insights Specialist: Domestic, SA Tourism, noted that Domestic Tourism Marketing Campaigns had been activated. These were the Welcome Campaign, the Sho’t Left Campaign; It’s Your Country, Enjoy Campaign and the We Do Tourism Campaign. SA Tourism’s 5-in- 5 Strategy was focused on driving the growth of domestic tourism by increasing holiday trips by 1m during 2017-2021. To inform the Domestic Market Strategy a deeper analysis was done of SA’s population to identify the insights that would help SA Tourism promote domestic holiday travel. The results showed that 22m adults who had a source of income in SA could be considered as potential travellers. However, only 10% of SA’s population could afford to travel. Visits to Friends and Family were still the most prominent purpose for domestic trips for South Africans but even this had decreased in 2017. Increasing taxes, unemployment, shrinking disposable income coupled with concerns over safety and security had negatively impacted domestic tourism in recent years. SA Tourism nevertheless actively launched targeted campaigns towards the domestic market. 

Ms Mashoto Zimba, Hub-Head SA, SA Tourism, emphasised that one of the biggest barriers to promoting domestic holiday travel was lack of infrastructure. There needed to be well maintained infrastructure if people were to enjoy affordable holiday trips locally. Over 700 government-owned resorts were identified as being under-utilised or disused. Most domestic tourists travelled by road (cars, taxis and buses) and hence roads had to be well maintained. The potential domestic traveller had to have access to disposable income, access to time, and access to information about what was available as well as to overcome the fear of the unknown. Some of the efforts by SA Tourism included radio campaigns, having holiday and travel expos, television campaigns and stokvel activations. All stakeholders were taken on board including provinces.

Discussion
Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) noted that at the end of the day all that people really considered was what the cost was. What the cost of travelling, accommodation and activities were? He stated that a flight to Kimberley from Cape Town return cost R3500. On the other hand one could fly to Egypt and back for R6000. If a local tourist had to decide, it was more tempting to go to Egypt. There was a need to promote experiences in SA. At present it was not being done. He observed that when ambassadors had asked him what was on offer in the Northern Cape Province he had run out of options and so he too was guilty of not knowing what his province offered. Members as representatives of their provinces had to sell their province’s experiences. There used to be budget resorts which the ordinary person could visit. These resorts were no longer frequented. People used to come from afar to stay at these resorts. Nowadays a guesthouse charged between R800-R1000 per day. The resorts were much cheaper. Cost was a major issue. Most locals did not wish to go to Johannesburg or Cape Town due to crime etc. People themselves were hesitant to travel because of SA’s recession. It was all good and well to have elaborate plans but if the economy did not pick up then the plans would perhaps be all in vain. Fuel prices were through the roof. A good start was to have affordable accommodation like those offered by municipal resorts. Municipal resorts had to be looked at and perhaps it was worth a shot to look at them from a provincial view.

Mr Ntshona agreed that travelling costs was a huge expense. Airline tickets made up 60% of the total cost of a holiday. He was hugely concerned when SA Express was grounded. Prices of airline tickets skyrocketed. It was difficult for SA Tourism but it did its best to try to influence. SA Tourism was part of air access campaigns especially in Cape Town. It also encouraged airlines to fly where they normally did not fly. SA Tourism made a deal with airlines that it would pick up their marketing tab if they added routes. SA Tourism did get involved. There was a need for more airlines and also for greater frequency. It was true that the domestic tourism market competed with international markets like Egypt. He also fully agreed that people needed to be sensitised. On resorts he said that the United Kingdom (UK) had a similar scenario. The UK had the Butlins budget resorts for locals. SA had a huge amount of municipal resorts. These could target the domestic market.

Ms Broderick said that there were resorts in all the provinces. There were many budget resorts and some were maintained. She pointed out that there were commercialisation guidelines and work was being done with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA). Concessions were offered at places like South African National Parks (SANParks) and existing concessions many of which dated back decades were changed. Transformation was brought in on the granting of concessions. There was a critical need for maintenance of parks. The option was to give maintenance contracts to Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs). For instance around the Kruger National Park poaching was a challenge and there was thus a need to empower the local youth about protecting their local resources.

Ms Zimba stated that SA Tourism had branded 200 taxis around the country to amplify the Travel Week Campaign. Travel Week Campaign billboards had also been put up at taxi ranks.
 
Mr L Magwebu (DA, Eastern Cape) congratulated SA Tourism on a job well done. He pointed out that SA Tourism had a pivotal role to play and had the potential to unlock jobs given that SA had 10m unemployed people. SA Tourism had planned to have a framework to support tour operators. What was the timeframe for the completion of the framework? When the framework was to be ready he asked whether it would be accessible to those who wished to be tour operators. He asked for an update on progress over Destination Marketing Companies (DMCs). On the Sho’t Left Campaign, he had seen it to be marketed and packaged. He noted however that not all travellers chose to fly. There were those who preferred to drive whether it was by taxi cabs or by minibus taxis.

Mr Ntshona agreed that the DMC space was important. If one expected existing DMCs and existing tour operators to do things it would not work. New players had to come in and space was reserved for them. SA Tourism worked with the NDT on DMCs.

Ms Broderick, on tour operators, stated that they were required to obtain the same permit as taxi drivers. It was a matter for the Department of Transport to look into. The Tourism Steering Committee was working on it.

Ms Rosy Mogotsi, Deputy Director: Domestic Tourism Facilitation, NDT, on timelines for the tour operator framework, explained that there were two rounds of consultations. To date a first draft of the framework had been developed. There was a planned session to be held in October 2018 between government and stakeholders. By March 2019 there would be a roadshow to present the framework to provinces. The framework would be ready before the end of March 2019.

Mr B Nthebe (ANC, North West) remarked that the presentation was very positive. It was evident from the presentation that infrastructure was characterised as a barrier but the presentation stopped short in terms of what action was being taken. The Committee was well aware that safety and infrastructure did not fall within the NDT and SA Tourism’s ambit. He proposed that a multi-faceted approach was needed. Road infrastructure played an important role on access to tourist sites. If roads were bad then it was a barrier to travel. All stakeholders should be brought on board to deal with infrastructure and safety matters.

Mr Ntshona said that tourism would look at all modes of transport. He stated that infrastructure was important. The issue was around how to collaborate. SA Tourism was at national level was SA. There were also provinces and municipalities. The problem was that nobody spoke to one another. He on a quarterly basis met with provincial authorities. The conversation covered matters like barriers.

Ms Broderick, on infrastructure challenges, said that the Nelson Mandela Museum at Qunu in the Eastern Cape Province was in a derelict state. Work was being done on it.

Mr J Mthethwa (ANC, KZN), on domestic tourism, said that people in rural areas were the most disadvantaged. People in rural areas did not have the most basic thing like an Identity Document (ID). They should be shown that there was more to life than only what they knew. Rural persons should form part of efforts on domestic tourism. When he was a scholar he remembered going on provincial school trips. It no longer happened. School kids only visited local factories in their areas. Long trips were good for scholars to see other provinces. What were efforts around school kids? He stated that it was important to involve provincial governments and municipalities on domestic tourism. Traditional leaders should also be taken on board. In some areas traditional leaders were more powerful than municipalities. The problem was that South Africans did not visit other provinces. He only now as a member of parliament had gone to the Limpopo Province for the first time. He was amazed at the Province’s beauty. The presentation had spoken about opportunities that came along with domestic tourism but nothing was said about cooperation with municipalities, traditional leaders, provinces and the private sector. He pointed out that that there were traditional functions taking place in provinces and perhaps SA Tourism could get involved to promote them. People needed to be part of these types of things. The focus of the NDT and SA Tourism was appreciated.

Ms Broderick, on rural areas, said that efforts were being made to target designated groups such as the aged, children and the disabled. The NDT worked with the Department of Basic Education. The idea was to take children to SA’s national parks. 

Ms Zimba stated that SA Tourism had agreements with provinces. Provinces had requested SA Tourism to assist them with their domestic tourism strategies. Work was done with all provinces and things could only get better with time.

Ms M Dikgale (ANC, Limpopo) said that members had covered her for the most part. She appreciated the efforts by the NDT and SA Tourism.  On stokvels, she asked which type of stokvel reference was being made to. She herself was part of a stokvel and discussions were mainly around funerals. She wished Limpopo Province to be included under domestic tourism plans. She agreed that travel was expensive.

Ms Zimba, on stokvels, said that she too spoke a great deal about funerals. There was a need to go beyond the funerals discussion and target other stokvels. Perhaps there was a need to partner with stokvel associations.

Ms Broderick stated that there were 46 resorts in the Limpopo Province.

The Chairperson, under barriers on promoting domestic travel, said that he and his wife had travelled to Jeffreys Bay and had looked for a place to stay. A garage attendant had directed them towards a resort. His wife did not approve of the place in question so they approached a caravan park. However they were not allowed to stay over at the caravan park as they did not have a caravan. The lady at the caravan park, being forthcoming, suggested that a friend of hers had accommodation. Plus she gave them biscuits to snack on. So the Chairperson and his wife ended up in a lovely three bed roomed apartment for R350 per night. This was the way things were in SA. On overall domestic trip spend, even if trips were fewer but the spend per trip was substantial it was good. The issue was about how to transform the sector. He continued that the Apartheid Museum was near to where he lived and yet he was the only one in his extended family of 50 that had visited it. He had on a trip to the south in the USA visited the Martin Luther King Museum and had come across a school group where the kids were making notes on the exhibitions. It panned out that it was part of a school project that a learner would get points for information that they picked up during the excursion. Was there a plan in place to bring schools on board? He felt that business also should be approached to come on board. Had discussions taken place with the SALGA? Did municipalities know about tourism? He was concerned about the lack of exchange of information amongst provincial authorities. They did not speak to each other. They rather competed with one another. Was it being addressed?

Mr Ntshona, to make it easier for people to find places, said that SA Tourism invested greatly on technological platforms such as applications on peoples’ mobile phones. The application would pinpoint places of interest to the individual. It had to be remembered that technology could be an enabler. It was a way for people to have information at their disposal. It could even provide information about a traditional event in the area. On business conferences, SA was doing well on conventions hosted in Cape Town and Durban etc. There was a need to provide conferences in smaller areas like Port Elizabeth just to increase exposure.

Ms Pamela Yako, Chairperson, SA Tourism Board, stated that there was a sense of excitement around work being done on domestic tourism. Access and affordability were matters that should be addressed.

The Chairperson asked whether provincial councils had plans in place for Tourism Month. On tour operator permits he noted that the Committee was dealing with the National Land Transport Bill. Concerns were raised that the waiting times for permits for taxi operators were too long. Perhaps if the tour operator had a letter from the NDT then things could be sped up. It was something to consider.

Committee Minutes
Minutes dated 15 August 2018 was adopted unamended.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

 

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