The Minister of Tourism stated that there were approximately 10 million visitors to the country in a year and the numbers were growing, despite the challenges. One of the challenges was crime and the report would show figures provided by the South African Police Service. The Minister was working with the security cluster to enhance the safety of tourists and a White Paper on Safety of Tourists had been developed. The National Department of Tourism (NDT) was not only addressing how it could attract more international tourists but also how it could persuade South Africans to be tourists in their own country. The domestic travel campaign would be a focus in the coming year. The Minister assured the Committee that the Department of Tourism was a stable department. She noted that the SA Tourism CEO had remained on precautionary suspension for a long time. The board of SA Tourism had received the investigation report the day before and the ministry had instructed the board to finalise the matter urgently.
The Director-General said the Department's focus was on the creation of jobs and improving the GDP of the country. The practice of responsible tourism was strongly promoted. In 2015, its mandate had translated into a direct contribution of R118 billion to the GDP and a total contribution of R375.5 billion. The target was one million direct jobs in tourism and over 2.2 million indirect jobs.
The Deputy Directors-General reported briefly on the plans for their directorates. Destination planning and investment coordination initiative focus areas include rural areas in the Northern and Eastern Cape including Port Nolloth, Sutherland with South Africa’s largest telescope as well as Port St Johns to Coffee Bay. The Department was initiating a Tourism Equity Fund to be managed by the Industrial Development Corporation. Tourism enterprises would be able to obtain a grant from funds made available by the Department which would leverage a loan from the IDC. Tourist establishments would be encouraged to grade their establishments by discounting the cost of applying for grading.
The Chief Financial Officer presented the budget for 2019/20 and the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework. The 65.5% of the budget of R 2.3 billion was absorbed by transfers and subsidies to its entities, largely to SA Tourism and to a lesser extent to Working for Tourism and the Tourism Incentive Programme. Compensation of employees absorbed R334 million.
Members asked about the suspension of the SA Tourism CEO. Was it correct that the CEO had not been provided with charges? Why was he still on suspension since April? What were his alleged transgressions? They asked what research had been done on the creation of jobs in the sector, and in particular, in getting poor and poorly educated people into tourism jobs. Members were concerned that the Department of Tourism was dependent on so many other departments. Was there an inter-ministerial committee to coordinate the departments? As the Department did not own tourism infrastructure, how did it ensure that there was maintenance of infrastructure that attracted tourism?
Members differed about the rural places chosen for destination projects, some found them too isolated while others believed these areas should be supported. How did NDT know that people would want to visit those places? They asked what would be done differently to make domestic tourism more successful? Which stakeholders had been assisted by the NDT programmes as many lacked skills. What were the tangible problems in transforming tourism in the rural areas? How were people there benefitting from NDT programmes? What was the 1% tourism levy used for? Why was the grading fee by the Grading Council not dropped completely as recommended by service providers? Members asked for an update on the status of blue flag beaches and how NDT determined the number of domestic and of international tourists in SA? What was it doing about people who arrived as tourists but stayed on as illegal immigrants?
Opening remarks by Minister of Tourism
Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane stated that there were approximately 10 million visitors to the country in a year and the numbers were growing, despite the challenges. One of the challenges was crime and the report would show figures provided by the South African Police Service. A question being addressed by the Department of Tourism was how it persuaded South Africans to be tourists in their own country, both for the tourism industry and because South Africans had to get to know their country. The domestic travel campaign would be a focus in the coming year.
The Minister noted that stability in a department was critical in order for it to achieve its objectives. She was concerned about the vacancy rate at the Department, but she was aware of the remuneration ceiling placed on departments by National Treasury and that the restriction would be continuing. The Minister assured the Committee that the Department of Tourism was a stable department. She added that the Committee would know that the CEO at South African Tourism had been suspended for a long time, but she had requested the Board to finalise the matter urgently.
The Minister informed the Committee that the National Department of Tourism played a critical role in driving economic development. Tourism was one of the sectors that was growing but NDT had to see from where the numbers were coming. That matter would be discussed in a strategic management workshop. The Minister was aware that the Committee in the Fifth Parliament had highlighted the challenges around the strategic plan which had been reflected in the Committee's Legacy Report.
National Department of Tourism (NDT) 2019/20 Annual Performance Plan
NDT Director-General, Mr Victor Tharage, announced he had brought his entire top management team, noting that all Deputy Directors-General were highly competent women. They would address specific areas. He stated that NDT was doing well but was always aware of the need to constantly improve.
The focus of NDT was on the creation of jobs and improving the GDP of the country. The practice of responsible tourism was strongly promoted. In 2015, its mandate had translated into a direct contribution of R118 billion to GDP and a total GDP contribution of R375.5 billion. Tourism had created 702 824 direct jobs. The target was one million direct jobs. Tourism supported a total of 1 551 200 indirect jobs. NDT was targeting over 2.2 million indirect jobs.
Programme Two Tourism Research, Policy and International Relations
Deputy Director-General: Ms Aneme Malan, reported that her branch would be developing a policy framework for the SA Missions tourism promotion and facilitation support as well as monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the 2018/19 National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS). A digitalisation framework for the tourism sector would be developed. Ms Malan would ensure that all Memoranda of Understanding that expired in the year were reviewed and possibly replaced.
Programme Three: Destination Development
DDG, Ms Shamilla Chettiar, noted that NDT did not own any infrastructure but worked in partnership with provincial departments and the tourism industry. A key aspect of the Programme's work for the year would be destination planning and investment coordination initiatives. Areas of focus included rural area in the Northern and Eastern Cape: Port Nolloth to Hondeklipbaai, Sutherland to Carnarvon, including the SALT (South Africa’s Largest Telescope), the Orange River Mouth, and Port St Johns to Coffee Bay. Key to the work in Programme Three was the Expanded Public Works Programme as 4 331 jobs would be created in 2019/20. The Programme would be supporting several tourism projects: Lotlamoreng Dam, Phiphidi Waterfall, Platfontein Game Farm, National Youth Chefs training programme, a sommelier training course, youth hospitality training and a food safety programme.
Programme Four: Tourism Sector Support Services
DDG, Ms Morongoe Ramphele, said that in addition to the current support programmes and structures, NDT was initiating a Tourism Equity Fund to be managed by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). Enterprises would be able to obtain a grant from funds made available by NDT which would leverage an IDC loan. Tourist establishments would be encouraged to grade their establishments by discounting the cost of applying for grading. The Programme was also running numerous capacity-building programmes, including one in which 20 tourist guides would be trained in the Mandarin language.
Programme One: Corporate Services
DDG, Ms Lulama Duma, moted its plan was aligned to government requirements and NDT was on track.
Mr Ralph Ackermann, NDT CFO, presented the budget for 2019/20 and the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework as well as the 2018/19 expenditure which was currently under audit. The R2.3 billion was mainly absorbed by transfers and subsidies of 65.5% or R1.482 billion to entities under NDT, largely to SA Tourism and to a lesser extent to Working for Tourism and the Tourism Incentive Programme. The compensation of employees absorbed 13.7% or R334 million of the budget.
The Chairperson thanked NDT for the comprehensive presentation. He informed Committee Members that speaking would be compulsory and invited Members to raise questions of clarity and to make comments.
Mr M De Freitas (DA) said he had many questions and that perhaps, in the interests of time, NDT could respond to some of his questions in writing. He asked the Minister about the suspension of the CEO of SA Tourism. His research showed that the DG had not been provided with charges. Was that correct? It did not sound right to him.
Mr De Freitas referred to the targets set for 2026 on slide 8. On what were the targets based? How had they been reached? He asked what progress had been made since 2015 and how progress was being monitored. On slide 13, outcome 11 stated ‘Creating a Safer South Africa’. Tourism could not manage the safety of tourists. That was a job for the South African Police Service, so how did that outcome work for Tourism when it had no control over the outcome? It was the job of policing.
Mr De Freitas noted the Japanese example NDT had used to show that different tourists had different interests. He asked what particular interests the various groups of tourists had, such as the example of a sector of the tourism market that came to South Africa to view the Jacaranda trees in blossom. He explained that it was his first tourism meeting and hoped that his knowledge would increase over time.
Referring to slide 23, Mr De Freitas asked what research had been done on the creation of jobs in the sector, and, in particular, in getting poor and poorly educated people into tourism jobs. Slide 29 referred to destinations. Were the destinations being promoted long-term and sustainable? His concern was the dependence of the NDT on so many other departments. Was there an inter-ministerial committee to coordinate the departments? NDT did not have its own infrastructure so how did it ensure that things happened and that there was maintenance of all aspects of tourism?
Slide 30 referred to the EPWP jobs and his concern was these were not long-term or sustainable. What was being done to move away from that kind of employment to make it permanent? People required sustainable, long-term jobs that contributed to the economy. Slide 31 mentioned a number of destination places. How were those places chosen? It was terribly difficult to get to the Northern Cape, much less to some of the outlying regions. How did NDT know that people would want to visit those identified destinations?
Why at that stage was NDT planning for difficult-to-get-to places when it would have been much easier to pick the low hanging fruit? The places were very beautiful, but he did not understand how NDT knew that people would want to go there? Slides 40 and 44 had further examples of this point. Was the fund sustainable? The marketing as well as the sustainability of the projects interested him. How did NDT know that spending the money would attract tourists?
Mr De Freitas was concerned about the number of tourist destinations in a state of disrepair. How had they reached such a state of disrepair in the first place?
The Chairperson suggested that other Members pose their questions and if the Members did not raise his further concerns, he would give Mr De Freitas another opportunity.
Mr H Gumbi (DA) apologised that he might also have rather elementary questions. He asked about the 1% tourism levy. What was it for? Where did it go to? Did all establishments have to be graded by the Grading Council and what was the net possibility for loss if an establishment was not graded? What were some of the practical things that SA missions and foreign embassies did to promote tourism and what did NDT envision them doing in the future?
Mr Gumbi referred to the Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with the universities. What were the NDT challenges it would want to discuss at the conference with the universities? He was hopeful that at a later stage NDT could run through the MoUs with the Committee and indicate the impact of the MoUs on NDT. He asked for an update on the status of blue flag beaches. Lastly, he was also wondering how destinations were chosen, especially those in the Northern Cape and whether NDT was putting its money in the right places.
Mr G Krumbock (DA) noted the NDT research as reported on slide 25. It had taken a long time for NDT to commission research to determine the optimal amount to spend on advertising in a foreign country to get a good return on the investment. The research had been undertaken by a UK university and a pilot had been run in a Nordic country to test the model and to fine tune it. The Committee had not heard much about it since then, and that had been a couple of years previously. If the Committee could not get a reply that day, he asked the Chairperson that a meeting be scheduled for NDT to report to the Committee on that research as advertising took a large chunk of the budget.
Mr Krumbock said that, despite a very detailed report, he had heard nothing about what would be done differently to start getting domestic tourism to be successful because it had been going backwards. If it had not been for business trips, there would have been a very serious decline in domestic tourism. Had there been any fresh thinking by NDT? To him, it seemed more of the same.
Mr Krumbock agreed with his colleague about the reliance of NDT on other departments to attain its goals, such as the departments dealing with security, local government, arts and culture. He wondered if, when identifying the projects in the Annual Performance Plan, NDT had made a list of the ten most popular destinations in a province and then met with Ministers and other counterparts to ensure that problems that dissuaded people from visiting a particular resort were addressed.
Currently tourism destinations were slammed on the Trip Advisor website and then people stopped going there. He represented Howick in Parliament. There was only one town in the entire country that had a significant waterfall in the middle of the town, and that was Howick. However, that very popular tourism site for many years had had a catastrophic decline in international visitors of about 250 000 per annum due to drunkenness, prostitution, and safety and security concerns. 40% of the businesses serving tourists in the town had closed down and many, many jobs had been lost. That was an example of how the different arms of government could work together. Was the Minister and her counterparts identifying hotspots and working towards cleaning them up? The Committee could have a look at such a project.
Mr Krumbock noted that there had been a lot of problems with the SRI (Social Responsibility Implementation Programme) projects where a lot of them had been closed down and others had required a further injection of capital. He would like to see the reports on those projects. He would like to see a further report on what had happened about the turnaround strategy for the list of projects presented previously. Some projects had been irredeemable, but others could have been resuscitated. There had been a wide spread of projects.
Mr Krumbock referred to slide 50 which suggested that grading of tourism establishments should be compulsory and that the fee for applying to be graded should be scrapped. He referred to the very disturbing report that the previous Committee had received. Slide 53 had a reference to a discount scheme being proposed for the grading of establishments. He did not wish to bring party politics into the Committee, but he had understood from FEDHASA (Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa) and other stakeholders that it would be better to scrap the grading fee and make grading compulsory and paid for by NDT and that NDT had been advised on this. He asked why NDT had not gone the whole way in following that advice. The fee charged for grading was insignificant in the budget, but it would keep the reputation of establishments in the country and South Africa’s reputation intact. Reputation was far more valuable than the money made from grading.
Mr Krumbock asked about the tourism incubators being established as per slides 58 and 59. Why had such an isolated and obscure place as Mier been selected for a tourism incubator? He doubted if Mier was on anyone’s bucket list. What was the reasoning for that choice?
He noted the reference to the National Chefs Training Programme. The Committee had heard the previous year that it had been relatively successful, but that there had been a very high drop-out rate. That was disappointing as it was taxpayer money that was being wasted and NDT was reaching out to young people. Had that been addressed? It was a pity as it was a good programme. Did all the students complete the programme and enter the industry with the necessary skills, or was the dropout rate still a concern?
Mr M Galo (AIP) asked which stakeholders or role players had been assisted by NDT. He knew that in the various municipalities there were many community-based organisations that had an interest in tourism and had tourism, projects. However, organisation of their projects was poor as their organisational skills were very bad and that was a problem for tourism. Had the CBOs been assisted by NDT?
Mr P Moteka (EFF) agreed that goal projection was important. When NDT indicated where it would be in 2026, it had to set goals for each year until 2026. The Committee could not wait until 2026 and then find that NDT was nowhere near those goals. NDT had to commit to attaining certain goals on the way and be held accountable for that performance.
Mr Moteka reminded NDT that transformation was essential. It had to be part of the Executive’s agenda. What were the tangible problems for transformation in the rural areas? How were people there benefitting from NDT programmes? He understood that in the rural areas, people who had done Tourism at school were being ignored. The focus was more on things made by the disabled. When NDT spoke of the creation of jobs, it should not include the EPWP work. EPWP work was not included in SA job statistics. EPWP was considered training and those people were not considered employed. Those positions were included to make it seem that NDT was doing well in job creation.
Mr Moteka asked who owned the destinations. Was it NDT, other departments or private companies? He had been to see one of the Northern Cape projects but it was not operating at all. He did not know why nothing had been happening there. The other concern was about dropouts. What were the challenges, what were the causes of dropouts and what was NDT doing to resolve the problems? He did not hear of anything being done after the failures.
What were the alleged transgressions of the SA Tourism CEO? The Committee could not talk about the failure of the CEO when it did not even know what the problem was. Mr Moteka wanted clear evidence of what the suspension was for.
Mr K Sithole (IFP) referred to tour operator training as a key strategy employed in implementing the NDT mandate in slide 9. Could NDT unpack this and indicate how many tour operators had been trained per province, and even per municipality? Members needed to be able to monitor the results of the strategy. At the moment, it was just a blank to Members.
Mr Sithole noted slide 34 which referred to one session per Province on the implementation of niche (township/rural) tourism development methodology. Where was NDT focusing? On which townships and rural areas? It was a blank. Members needed details of how many areas per province.
Mr Sithole referred to slide 52 on Local Government Tourism Peer Learning Network sessions for municipal practitioners in four provinces. What about the other provinces? What was happening there?
Ms S Xego (ANC) congratulated the Minister and the Deputy Minister on their appointments to a diligent Department. She had listened to the President’s dream presented at the SONA. She believed that NDT was there to fulfil the President’s dream of facilitating 21 million international visitors in 2030, and she asked herself what those tourists would find. Would it just be an opportunity to be a tourist? Tourism was about everything in the value chain.
Ms Xego asked about those who had applied to NDT for funds for things such as the training programmes. When people did not qualify, it was up to NDT to follow up and find out why a person had not qualified. Some needed funds because they lacked something, and it was the responsibility of NDT to ensure that everyone in the tourism industry had what they needed. She referred to the Transformation Fund in NDT and said there was a problem as there was insufficient funding to do what needed to be done.
She was happy with the NDT mission and the vision but asked if NDT was doing enough in its action plan to address the situation. Sixth Parliament MPs were still familiarising themselves with the work of NDT and were asking questions about who was doing what, where, for what purpose, and who was benefitting.
Ms Xego said that the majority of jobless South Africans wanted to have work. When the 21 million tourists came to South Africa, they would also want to see the villages so a person in a rural village had to be able to host visitors and to cook traditional food. People should not beg but should make food for tourists. People did not have to be employed by big business to be employed. They could make money in their villages.
Noting that NDT was reliant on other stakeholders, Ms Xego said NDT's job was to coordinate other stakeholders. People should not go only to the familiar destination routes that they knew about. There needed to be connection between the routes because one could have destination sites at national, provincial, local government and even village level. When tourists arrived in SA in 2021, there had to be other destinations for them.
Ms M Gomba (ANC) asked how NDT measured domestic tourism. How did NDT determine the number of domestic tourists at the tourist destinations in SA? How did NDT measure international tourists? She asked about inter-governmental relations. People came into the country illegally on the pretence of being tourists, and remained as illegal immigrants. Did NDT work with Home Affairs on that matter? Was enough attention being given to Sharpeville because that was where democracy had come from?
Mr Z Peter (ANC) asked about the White Paper as there some areas that raised many questions. In growing tourism across all levels of government, NDT should invite all participants in the tourism industry to get together and shape the way forward. He was talking township tourism. The innovations and the expanded work involvement – he hoped that it was not ‘one size fits all’ plan because it had to be characterised according to the sector, such as the rural sector. There were different sectors, even in the rural sector. There were well-established farmers such as the cane farmers who might not be contributing effectively to tourism. It should not be a blanket approach.
He told the Minister that he did not want to rock the boat, but colleagues were right. There had to be a feeling that there was a new boss in the room and the Sixth Administration had to demand action. The focus on adding other destinations was important.
Mr Peter said he had to be cautious about how he made his next point. Government had already decided to implement land expropriation without compensation but those who were against that would do anything to paint a negative picture in terms of jobs, job losses and the possible downgrade of the economy, but listening to the presentation and the Minister, he believed that there was a good story to be told. The researchers, through the mandate of the Minister, should start considering farms and places that would complement the decision taken by government and that would take the good story forward and leverage on what NDT had just presented. The process had to be fully supported and government, across the board, had to fight poverty and to go forward. He supported the Annual Performance Plan.
Mr T Khalipha (ANC) noted that tourism and NDT had a huge mandate and many targets. To achieve all the targets with the R2.3 billion would require a concerted effort. He noted that stability was important, even though there were new responsibilities there would always be perceptions and misperceptions. The previous day when the Committee Chairperson was appointed, there had been allegations. His third point was the rural areas. Every time one spoke about tourism, the focus was on Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. What efforts were made to take tourists to other provinces, smaller mining towns and townships. What was the plan? In his view, there were no coordinated efforts by anyone other than NDT. What was the stand of the Economic cluster and other clusters on the townships? There were statements but no effort was made. People moved from villages and towns because there were no consolidated plans to support people in villages and small towns. In other areas, there was transformation, but there was no money for the rural areas.
Mr Khalipha welcomed the presentation and the efforts being made by NDT. He also appreciated the training offered. He wondered if there had been any visits to the Northern Cape. Was NDT supporting Local Government? He had been working with Local Government and he knew that support was needed. Nevertheless, it was an honour to work with the Minister and he was confident of success.
Ms L Makhubela-Mashele (ANC) asked what the impact would be, over the short and the long term, of the baseline reduction of the allocation to Tourism Sector Support Services and to Transfers and Subsidies in the NDT budget. It meant that while SA Tourism (SAT) was supposed to deliver tourists to the country, its budget had been cut and that would set SAT back. Would the targets be achieved given that reduction?
Ms Makhubela-Mashele asked how involved were the provinces and local government in the Tourism Master Plans for new destinations. She did not want to hear that they had been involved in developing the plan; she wanted to know what investment they had made in bringing the master plan to life. The implementation plan would have to be updated before the master plan could be implemented. The DDG could provide an update on the investments made in the master plan at the Quarterly Report meeting. Had NDT budgeted for all the stakeholder meetings to which officials would have to travel? If there was no investment, NDT could create endless master plans, but nothing would change.
Ms Makhubela-Mashele said previously NDT had reported that the incubators were coming to an end and the Committee had asked if the incubators would be rolled out to other areas. How did NDT plan to move forward with the incubators? How would they fit into the integrated system? What was NDT doing for tour operators who were beset by a wide range of challenges such as having their qualifications accepted? The Committee required an update. How would the incubators be dealing with those challenges and ensuring that problems did not arise for those tour operators?
Ms Makhubela-Mashele referred to the infrastructure maintenance programme in two national parks. Were those programmes linked to the EPWP programme? She needed to understand the model of the project and whether it was short-term or long-term?
The Chairperson asked if Mr de Freitas had any further questions.
Mr de Freitas stated that he still had several questions, but due to the time constraints he suggested that he forward the questions to the Committee Secretary and NDT be requested to respond in writing.
The Chairperson appreciated the gesture.
The Chairperson said in future he would appreciate an analysis of how the current strengths and weaknesses of the country impacted the tourism sector. The Preamble of the Constitution stated the people of South Africa want to build a united non-racial, non-sexist democratic society. But when one looked at the various departments, including Tourism, there was no expression of that society the country wished to create. The visions of the departments were confined to what each department itself wanted to do. There was a blur between the mission and vision. Members could think about that going forward. It was a battle they might not win but it did not mean that they should not think about it. That was the society that the country wanted to create. The Committee had to ensure that consultants did not misdirect the work that might be given them. The Minister did not need to respond to that point.
The Chairperson made the point that he would be making in the National Assembly debate on Tourism. He wanted to take the total number of villages in South Africa and outline the role played by tourism in each village. From the villages, he would talk about the number of townships and what could accrue to the people in the townships from tourism and what an impact it could make on the people. From there he would go to the small towns from the colonial and the apartheid days and they were the ones that the village people depended on for everything. He would include in the debate the small towns or “dorpies” and the interplay of tourism between villages, townships and small towns. If he could talk about specific towns, people would know that he was referring to the citizens in specific places and not generally, and those people would know that their plight was being addressed. There had to be an understanding of the total number of villages. When one disaggregated poverty, inequality and unemployment, one did not talk in general terms but zoomed into it village by village.
The Chairperson informed the Minister that he would be talking to that point in the debate on Tourism and that he would also be expressing full confidence in her, her deputy and her Department.
His next point was about young people in the education system. He suggested that NDT made it a mission to fight for learners who were doing Tourism as a subject and who were taking subjects related to the service sector. Going forward, NDT should look at the sector SMMEs (small, medium and micro enterprises) and identify entrepreneurship development. Tourism should be able to quantify villages, townships, “dorpies” and entrepreneurship development. NDT had to know how many people it had persuaded to become entrepreneurs in the sector and the various types of entrepreneurs in the sector.
The Chairperson noted that NDT was the Marketing Department of South Africa. What NDT is producing as a company cannot be consumed unless it is marketed. The DG should explain that to other departments.
Finally, he wished to make a point about the media in South Africa. NDT had to get the media to sell South Africa as a tourist destination. A plan would have to be made to see how the media could be engaged.
The Chairperson assured the Minister that she had the support of the Committee. The Committee would take a very positive but incisive approach to the task of maintaining oversight over NDT. It would be very focused.
The Minister suggested that the Department respond first to the questions and she would deal with anything that the Department was not in a position to respond to.
Response by National Department of Tourism
Ms Duma, DDG for Corporate Services, said she could confidently state that women were fully represented at all levels of the Department. On the media showcasing the country, she replied that in its concerns for the current year, NDT had highlighted the need to improve relations with the media. NDT would report on the situation in its quarterly reports.
Ms Ramphele, DDG for Destination Development, replied that poverty was rife in the rural areas selected for destination development. The people in the area had been trained to be able to capitalise on the development of destinations. The incubator was a value-chain and they would be able to support each other. Ultimately NDT was hoping to have 90 incubators, with ten incubators in each province, although some provinces would have more, and others would have less than ten. It would take time to roll out the incubators. The tour guides were able to leave their training ready to be employed in certain jobs, but they could return for further instruction or skills upgrade.
The Blue Flag programme was part of the coastal marine plan and was a voluntary certification by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) that a beach, marina, or sustainable boating tourism operator met its stringent standards. The four coastal provinces participated in the programme. The most active work on blue flag beaches had been done in the Eastern Cape, particularly in the Nelson Mandela metro and the number of blue flag beaches there had increased. Ethekwini had lost most of its blue flag beaches due to the state of the rivers flowing into the sea at the beaches and that problem would have to be resolved before the beaches could get back to blue flag status. There were currently 46 blue flag beaches and NDT was looking at supporting another 25 beaches to reach blue flag status.
Ms Ramphele replied that there were two strategies for developing rural provinces that NDT followed in conjunction with the Departments of Arts and Culture and Rural Development and Land Reform. These were the National Heritage and Cultural Tourism Strategy and the National Rural Tourism Strategy. NDT ensured that it worked in the most rural of areas.
Ms Ramphele admitted that there had been a high drop-out rate in the first year of the training programme. NDT had simply added more learners to make up the numbers. The programme was now running for the third year and there had not been any dropouts. The training programmes were 30% theory and 70% practical, but NDT had struggled to find opportunities for the learners to get practical experience. In Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape they did not have problems finding opportunities for practical work, but it was a huge struggle in the Northern Cape. In fact, they had only been able to find ten young persons willing and able to undertake the training that year and so ten opportunities had been moved to the North West Province.
On the question of local government, Ms Ramphele replied that NDT worked with SALGA (South African Local Government Association) to ensure that where there was potential for tourism. SALGA assisted in explaining what was required to municipalities, starting with basic municipal water provision and energy provision. It was a case of ensuring that the municipalities understood that without the basic requirements of water and electricity, tourism would not thrive in their area. The municipalities needed to do their part for NDT to do its part in bringing tourists.
Traditional leaders also could be assisted via a training programme. Traditional leaders did not understand tourism and NDT had to explain how it worked. NDT undertook a needs analysis and then offered training to capacitate the traditional leaders in those areas in which training was required. There were also more informal engagements with the communities that often did not understand what needed to be done to create the right atmosphere for tourism.
Ms Ramphele explained that the maintenance programme had been set up to assist communities to continue to work in the park identified and to keep the infrastructure in a good condition. It was a measure to ensure that the programme could continue to operate in the future.
Ms Ramphele replied about tour guide qualifications, saying the problem had arisen when the Department of Higher Education had produced new requirements. NDT had met with the SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) and with the service provider to ensure that there were no delays in trainees receiving their certificates when they had completed the programme. She was happy to say that the matter had been resolved.
Ms Shamilla Chettiar, DDG for Destination Development, replied about how NDT selected destinations and dealt with the various destination categories. Currently the jobs identified in the Working for Tourism projects were all EPWP positions. The teams had been working in the parks for a long time and the maintenance funds that NDT offered the national parks supplemented the SA National Parks own maintenance budget. There were issues around ownership. Some facilities were owned by provincial entities or SANParks or the Department of Arts and Culture. NDT had MoUs with those entities and the MoUs had detailed project plans that NDT worked towards to ensure the achievement of objectives jointly with the responsible entity.
Ms Chettiar replied about the identification of sites. She stated that the NDT had a process that had to be followed when identifying destination sites which included engagement with stakeholders at provincial and local government level. NDT mapped the supply that existed and determined the demand that would come from tourism and then looked at matching supply and demand and thus make decisions to fill any gaps. NDT had undertaken a very solid process to create the master plan. The Port Nolloth to Hondeklipbaai and Sutherland to Carnarvon Master Plans had been developed in conjunction with SALGA which had been doing work in the area. That plan would ultimately link up to the Karoo Master Plan. The master plans for niche tourism were sustainable as NDT looked at them not as individual projects but as a pipeline. NDT worked together with the province and the local authorities to ensure that each project found expression in the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) of the municipality. The intention was that local government would take the projects and make them reality. They would not lie on the shelf. She warned that master plans took between five and 20 years to come to fruition.
Ms Chettiar replied about EPWP that she would have to provide a full report. However, NDT had taken account of all recommendations and was implementing them on two levels. One was for projects that had to be finished, and the second level was for projects that NDT was currently implementing and would be taking forward.
Ms Aneme Malan, DDG for Tourism Research, Policy, International Relations and Strategic Sector Partnerships, replied about the research on job creation. NDT had a very sophisticated way of measuring jobs in the sector and worked in conjunction with Statistics South Africa. It came with a bit of a lag and the current StatsSA data was for 2017. However, NDT kept its own statistics for the current year and had a clear understanding of how many jobs had been created in the sector, including gender and location. The Skills Audit had assisted NDT to identify the gaps and to ensure that the supply responded to the demand for jobs. There had been a skills audit and NDT knew exactly which fields had to be developed and that was what NDT was responding to in its programmes. NDT always measured jobs and economic growth.
Ms Malan replied that the MoU programme had started with five universities but had been expanded over the years. She had eight research teams that tackled many issues and responded to needs identified by NDT and by the sector. She hoped at some stage to be able to present a detailed report to the Committee. In the course of the current year, the MoUs with universities would come to an end and so NDT would be putting out a call to all universities and institutions for research proposals. NDT had not conducted the foreign research referred to by a Committee Member and she asked for further information about that particular study so she could follow it up. Research seminars were conducted on the basis of an open invitation to all stakeholders. NDT had a committee consisting of representatives from provinces and other departments and that committee focussed on research to ensure the research methodology was aligned across all provinces and national departments.
Ms Malan confirmed that NDT had annual targets to attain the MTEF projections. NDT addressed the variables that cropped up within the period. NDT was currently working on game changers and marketing plans for the sector and how they could be aligned to the targets. International arrival statistics were supplied by StatsSA that utilised movement data captured by the Department of Home Affairs. It was published monthly with a three-month lag in data. Domestic tourism was determined via a household survey conducted by StatsSA. The contribution of domestic and international tourism to the economy, including job creation and economic growth, was also determined by StatsSA. As far as possible, NDT relied on statistics provided by official agencies.
On illegal immigrants, Ms Malan replied that NDT was a member of a range of committees chaired by the Department of Home Affairs that included a wide range of stakeholders, including the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Migration.
Ms Malan informed Ms Makhubela-Mashele that the reduction in the baseline budget for SA Tourism was a concern and SAT would make that point to the Committee the next day, but it was the reality that all departments were facing. Every year NDT received less money but had to do more with less money and adapt the way that NDT did things. The reduction would certainly have an impact on SAT, but how big, she could not say. SAT would inform the Committee in its presentation.
NDT Director-General, Mr Tharage, replied that the tourism levy was voluntary and not compulsory and that the money was collected from establishments that had decided to collect the tourism levy and pay it to South African tourism (TOMSA). It was declared to National Treasury as money that had been collected from that particular stream. It was meant to augment the small budget available.
Mr Tharage replied that NDT had tried to absorb as much of the budget cut as it could. NDT found that it impacted on its programme and it had to ask questions such as whether to build two half-lodges in two different provinces or whether it focussed on one and forgot about the other. At the moment, NDT was trying to refine all its plans in response to the budget cuts. He could not say what impact it would have on policy, as he was currently leaving policy issues aside. It was an area of continual work.
The Director-General shared information about the practical constraints of grading establishments. Currently, grading was taking place but if grading were to become compulsory, with government paying as proposed, NDT would have to set up between 114 and 140 inspectors in-house and that would have a significant impact on employee compensation costs, and that was not even taking into account the operational requirements. Cars would be needed as well as petrol, etc. At the moment, it simply was not financially viable for NDT to cover the cost of grading all establishments. It was a matter of affordability. However, if the industry were to become involved, it might be a different story.
The DG assured the Committee that NDT had done a lot of work to promote tourism through its work with the Department of Public Works. One good example was the development of the areas around the Cradle of Mankind where tourism figures had just shot up following the completion of the buildings by Public Works. NDT was led at all times by Public Works and together the departments had to agree upon what could be done. National parks were managed by South African National Parks, an entity of the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, which owned the national parks. The national parks remained some of the biggest draw cards in attracting tourists, so NDT was concerned about how to make the parks more accessible. NDT was also working with local communities in and around the parks. He assured the Committee that NDT had a very good relationship with SANParks, and information was shared between the two. There was an MoU between NDT and SANParks. The extent of transformation in privately-owned game parks was very good. They were, by definition, in the rural areas. There had been a process involving biodiversity and the use of land. When private game parks managed their stock to ensure appropriate biodiversity and appropriate numbers of stock, the additional stock was transferred to community-owned parks and stakeholder committees were managing those processes. Those were the low-hanging fruit.
The DG noted that the Minister had already instructed NDT to up its game
Response by Deputy Minister
Deputy Minister Fish Mahlalela stated that the Minister had noted that there were jobs and employment opportunities in the tourism sector and that certain things would have to be done so the sector could address the challenges and unlock that potential. The NDT mandate had to ensure that.
The Deputy Minister spoke about the ownership of parks. Some of them were national parks, others were privately-owned, and some were owned by communities. There was a whole range of management systems. One objective of the Annual Performance Plan was to create employment opportunities by implementing tourism projects. Implement the Expanded Public Works Programmes (EPWP) funded projects intended to improve product offering and visitor experience as well as creating full time-equivalent job opportunities. The objective talked about opportunities and NDT had followed that up with interventions in the social realm and had looked for job opportunities. There were also interventions by provinces.
The Deputy Minister pointed out that the challenge of the rural areas was impacted by the historical patterns of mobility. Most flights landed in Johannesburg and hence Gauteng became the first stop and then people went to Cape Town and so on. The matter would have to be worked on by provinces. The marketing was not only done by national. Provinces and rural areas had to market the places so that they could benefit from tourism in the country. He agreed with the Chairperson that NDT, as the one responsible for marketing the country, had to work together with the totality of other entities in the country.
Response by Minister
Minister Kubayi-Ngubane commented that it was good to have an in-depth discussion with the Committee. A number of issues had been responded to and she would not repeat those comments. On the matter of the SA Tourism CEO, it was a protected disclosure by a whistleblower and the Board had dealt with the matter. The CEO had not been charged and that had been a concern but there was a process underway. She could not disclose the details of the investigation. She added that she did not even know the details of the investigation and did not want to know until the process was complete and the investigation report had been issued to her.
The Minister agreed that the issue with the traditional authorities was a challenge and she would meet with the National House of Traditional Leaders. Part of the concern was the matter of people sharing. How did they translate that into ownership if they were talking about ownership? They would definitely address transformation and economic issues were also a concern that would be addressed.
Illegal immigrants was a Home Affairs matter. It impacted on NDT only when someone came to the Department of Tourism to discuss or report such a matter. There had been discussions with the African Union and there would have to be a policy decision on South Africa opening the doors to Africa and if that would be a good thing or whether illegal immigrants would take advantage of that. People often asked if one could make it easier for one to come to SA and she was excited by the announcement by the Minister of Home Affairs that travellers from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and New Zealand would no longer require a visa to visit South Africa for holidays, conferencing and business meeting visits. Visa waivers for Ghana, Cuba and Sao Tome and Principe would be implemented after negotiations with these countries had been concluded.
The Minister stated that the issue about the Tourism Grading Council was also about whether the grading sector could be incorporated into NDT as a salaried entity. From government’s point of view there was no appetite for creating more salaried positions and, in addition, there would be a need for enforcement officers. There was no money. Government did not want to pass a policy for the sake of passing policy. If it passed a policy, it had to be able to enforce that policy. The challenge was to determine how to manage a grading system and how to enforce it. That challenge had to be addressed. Once that process was underway, NDT would report back to the Committee and even get insights from Members to enrich the discussions. For the moment, NDT was not going to push for compulsory grading, but the TGCSA would remain an entity.
On co-ordinating mechanisms for infrastructure and safety, the Minister replied that she was the co-chairperson of the Economic Co-ordination Committee in Cabinet and so she would be able to oversee that co-ordination. Due to the impact of security on economic growth, the role of the police was seen as integral to the Economic Cluster. Globally, it was clear that the safety of tourists was critical. She was working with the security cluster to enhance the safety of tourists and already a White Paper on Safety of Tourists had been developed and she believed that it could be enhanced with input from the provincial police. That would be announced soon. She added that there were lessons that could be learnt from other countries. NDT would have to look for creative measures to achieve what it wanted to achieve.
The Minister stated that it was imperative for NDT to work closely with the Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA) in training for the industry. Unfortunately, CATHSSETA had not been functioning very well and the SETA had been under administration, but the leadership challenge had been addressed and a CEO had been appointed. The Minister’s comfort was that the new CEO was highly experienced and had been chairperson of highly successful related bodies in the past. She was sure that other challenges in CATHSSETA would be addressed and that would impact positively on training in the industry.
The Minister thanked Members of the Committee for their invaluable inputs which had given NDT valuable food for thought. NDT would have to go back and unpack the issues raised by Members and reflect on them as it developed its strategy. It would have to see whether it could re-position itself to respond to the issues. An important question was how to bring everybody on board, and she agreed with the DDG that NDT should work with editors to keep everyone better informed. Everyone had a duty to work towards a better South Africa. She looked forward to working with the Committee.
The Acting Chairperson, Ms Makhubela-Mashele, thanked the Minister and NDT and hoped that all Members felt that their questions had been responded to. She noted that several Members wished to speak.
Mr Gumbi asked for an expansion of the information provided about the tourism levy. He understood that it was a once-off levy that went to TOMSA, Tourism Marketing South Africa. The funds collected were primarily used by SA Tourism to market and promote South Africa as a preferred travel and tourism destination. He had heard that the levy was voluntary so he needed to know why one would pay the levy. What did one get out of paying the levy? He was not interested in the origins but in why people committed to paying the levy.
Another Member noted a response had not been given on the question of EPWP positions being classified as jobs. They were only temporary jobs so why include them in that definition of jobs?
The DG replied that those establishments that benefitted from tourists were part of the whole SA that was being marketed. When tourists came, they would see from the brochures which were the best places to go. The tourists would consume food and beverage or transport offered by the very same people who collected those levies. The 1% was a consumer fund and did not belong to the establishment that charged the levy – it was to promote the country as a whole. The details about jobs supplied to NDT by StatsSA were taken from the entire value chain from accommodation establishments to other sectors in the tourism industry. The job opportunities targeted by NDT were those that it thought were needed the most.
Mr Khalipha thanked the Minister and NDT for the briefing. The Committee would be overseeing NDT very decisively and matters would not be swept under the carpet. The Committee would not cross swords with NDT, but it would objectively draw attention to the items NDT had committed to in its Annual Performance Plan. The channels of communication would be open at all levels between the Portfolio Committee and NDT. He appreciated the time and resources invested in preparing the quality inputs for the meeting. He had learned much. He was happy because things were going in the right direction.
Mahumapelo, Mr S
April, Mr HG
De Freitas, Mr MS
Galo, Mr MP
Gomba, Ms MM
Gumbi, Mr HS
Khalipha, Mr TD
Krumbock, Mr GR
Kubayi-Ngubane, Ms M
Mahlalela, Mr AF
Makhubela-Mashele, Ms LS
Moteka, Mr PG
Peter, Mr ZJ
Sithole, Mr KP
Xego, Ms ST