Department of Tourism & SA Tourism 2019/20 Annual Performance Plans, with Minister

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Meeting Summary

Government Departments & Entities 2019/20 Annual Performance Plan (APP) 

Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said work was being done on the new five-year Strategic Plan. The efforts of the tourism portfolio had to contribute towards growth, economic development and job creation. She conceded that weaknesses had however been encountered and one such weakness was the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) projects. NDT had called upon the Government Technical Advisory Centre to assist on 32 EPWP projects. Engineers had been appointed to assist with projects. There had been problems but it was being dealt with. The President had set a target of having 21m South Africans travelling by 2030. This target had translated into targets for the NDT. She noted that a forensic investigation had been done on the matter of the suspended SA Tourism CEO and disciplinary action would be taken against the CEO. SAT did have weaknesses and its past strategy had not allowed it to meet its targets. There was however a new strategy and the focus of SAT should be to have an active domestic travel campaign. One of the greatest challenges for tourism was safety. Safety of tourists was of utmost importance. Within the next two weeks the intention was to put together a team and to have a safety strategy in place. Tourism relied a great deal on the Department of Home Affairs that processed visas for tourists. The DHA in October 2019 intended to pilot online visa registration.

The Committee was briefed by the National Department of Tourism (NDT) on its Annual Performance Plan (APP) 2019/20. Members were provided with a brief understanding of the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS), the NDT’s policy and legislative mandate, the focus of the NDT’s key strategies, focus areas for intervention and the NDT’s strategic objectives. The Committee was given a provincial breakdown of APP projects. The APP targets were outlined for each of its Programmes: Corporate Management; Tourism Research, Policy and International Relations; Destination Development and Tourism Sector Support Services. For 2019/20 the NDT budget was R2.3bn.

Members asked how SALGA assisted with NDT efforts at local government level. Were tourism programmes broadcast on Ubuntu Radio? Did NDT and SAT use SA’s missions to market SA abroad as a tourist destination? Members asked about progress made at Shangoni Gate in the Limpopo Province. How did protests in SA affect the tourism sector? The safety of tourists was a concern. Braille signage at the Kruger National Park was raised. The number of limited flights between Cape Town and Mpumalanga were a concern. The flights were also very expensive. The NDT was asked if there were incentives in place for locals to visit national parks and access to information about this at grassroots level seemed to be a problem. Members suggested municipalities could set up more information centres. Did the NDT provide rebates for companies that went green? Members pointed out that things at Vredefort Dome did not look good yet the attraction held so much potential to attract tourists. The Mandarin training of guides was raised. NDT was asked to provide figures on youth trained and placed in jobs and on those that had dropped out. Members asked about the effect of the government-wide budget cuts. Airbnb legislation was questioned. Members observed that medical tourism in SA was huge and asked how the National Health Insurance (NHI) would impact upon medical tourism. Members were concerned about a Northern Cape training programme being discontinued due to a lack of interest by youth. Members observed that on the provision of programmes in rural areas had a bias towards towns rather than villages. Members pointed out that the briefing had been silent around alignment between the three spheres of government. The Chairperson asked about the status of the amendments to the Tourism Act. Did the NDT place its own staff at missions? He pointed out that government spent billions of rands on procurement and questioned if black people were benefitting from contracts. NDT was asked how it could be ensured that both parliament and government used smaller accommodation establishments such as in townships.

The Committee was briefed by South African Tourism (SAT) on its Annual Performance Plan 2019/20. Members were informed that SAT’s performance on its 5-in-5 goal (4m international arrivals and 1m domestic holiday trips within 5 years) was below the required growth rates. Some challenges to international tourism growth were negative perceptions via media about safety and security in SA as well as regulatory issues with visa processing. Challenges to domestic tourism growth were also safety and security concerns, economic constraints as well as a lack of targeted marketing. Strategic focus areas for 2019/20 included collaborating with other government departments, implementing SAT events strategy as well as driving transformation in the sector. SAT’s budget was R1.5bn. 70% of SAT’s funding went towards marketing.

Members urged SAT to have a strategy to change negative perceptions of SA to positive ones. SAT was further urged to have different marketing strategies for backpackers and for big spenders. Members suggested that SAT engage with embassies to waylay negative perceptions about SA. Members asked whether there were any benefits derived from SA’s partnership with BRICS countries. The Chairperson asked if the Tourism Marketing SA (TOMSA) levies should be part of legislation.

Meeting report

The Chairperson at the outset expressed his disappointment that some of the documents had been received late by the Committee. The SA Tourism document had been sent to him the previous afternoon. It was concerning to the Committee that it had not received the National Department of Tourism (NDT) and SAT briefing documents the previous week. The Committee was then assured it would receive the documents over the weekend which also had not happened. How was the Committee expected to perform effective oversight? What questions could Members possibly ask about the briefing documents when they had not had the opportunity to peruse them. To make matters worse the briefings were supposed to have taken place on 30 July 2019 which meant that members should have had the documents long before.

Minister Kubayi-Ngubane apologised on behalf of the team for the late provision of briefing documents. The documents had been ready for the meeting scheduled for July as she had signed off on it. However it was communicated to the NDT and SAT that the briefings needed to focus on the provinces. Consequently, the briefing documents had to be revised. She had seen the revised briefing documents on 23 August 2019. She once again apologised for NDT and SAT’s disorganisation and it would not happen again.

 

She extended apologies for the absence of Deputy Minister Mahlalela and Director General Tharage from the meeting as they were attending a meeting in the National Assembly.

Opening remarks by Minister Kubayi-Ngubane
Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said the current Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) was ending and work was now being done on the new MTSF. Work was being done on the Strategic Plans of both the NDT and SAT. The efforts of the tourism portfolio had to contribute towards growth, economic development and job creation in SA.

She conceded that weaknesses had however been encountered and one such weakness was the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) project. There was broader concern in Parliament about the EPWP. The NDT had called upon the Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC) within Treasury to assist it on the EPWP projects. There were 32 EPWP projects within NDT needing attention. Engineers had been appointed to assist the projects. There had been problems but it was being dealt with. There had even been misuse of funds on projects but the NDT Director General had opened criminal cases against the guilty parties. The bigger problem was that NDT lacked capacity on build programmes. Years back when the tourism portfolio was separated from environmental affairs portfolio, the build capacity had gone with environmental affairs. NDT had however received assistance from provinces and local government on the EPWP projects.

Generally, the tourism portfolio was doing well. The idea was to get South Africans to travel. President Cyril Ramaphosa had set a target of having 21m South Africans travelling by 2030. This target had translated into targets for the NDT. The briefings would shed light on how things were coordinated with provinces. Regular meetings with the MECs were taking place. Going forward there was a need for consolidation of projects.

She also apologised for the Chairperson of the SAT Board not being present as the Chairperson was on vacation. The Acting CEO of SAT too was absent because of road-shows taking place abroad. The CEO of the SAT had been suspended. The SAT Board was tasked with dealing with the matter. The Board was getting its information around the matter from a whistleblower. A forensic investigation into the matter had been done. She had responded to the final draft report of the Board on 15 August 2019 for disciplinary action to be taken against the CEO. She had on the 15 August 2019 provided concurrence for disciplinary action against the CEO. She conceded that SAT did have weaknesses. SAT’s strategy in the past had not allowed it to meet its targets. There was however a new strategy in SAT’s Strategic Plan.

She reiterated that South Africans needed to travel. The focus of SAT should be to have an active domestic travel campaign. One of the greatest challenges for tourism was safety. Safety of tourists was of utmost importance. NDT worked hand in hand with the South African Police Service (SAPS). Within the next two weeks the intention was to put together a team and to have a safety strategy in place. Tourism relied a great deal on other departments as well. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) processed visas for tourists. Visa waivers had now been granted by DHA to New Zealand, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). DHA intended to pilot online visa registration in October 2019.

National Department of Tourism (NDT) 2019/20 Annual Performance Plan (APP)
Ms Nomzamo Bhengu Chief Director: Systems and Strategy, spoke on the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS), NDT’s policy and legislative mandate, the focus of NDT key strategies, focus areas for intervention and the strategic objectives. The Committee was given a provincial breakdown of APP projects. The briefing continued on 2019/20 targets that NDT had set within its programmes.

Programme 1: Corporate Management
Ms Lulama Duma, Deputy Director General: Corporate Management, spoke of the programme purpose and its targets such as an unqualified audit for financial and non-financial performance; a vacancy rate not exceeding 10%; to maintain a minimum of 50% women representation at Senior Management Service (SMS) level and to have a 3% representation of people with disabilities.

Programme 2: Tourism Research, Policy and International Relations
Ms Aneme Malan, Deputy Director General: Tourism Research, Policy and International Relations, stated that the programme purpose was to enhance the strategic policy environment, monitor the tourism sector’s performance and enable stakeholder relations. For 2019/20 the target was to have seven monitoring and evaluation reports on tourism projects and initiatives. Another target was to have the Digitisation Framework for the tourism sector developed to promote digitisation in the sector.

Programme 3: Destination Development
Ms Shamilla Chettiar Deputy Director General: Destination Development, stated that the programme purpose was to ensure coordination and development of amenities, facilities, products and infrastructure to deliver quality visitor experiences and enhance the well being of communities. For 2019/20 the target was set to have seven destination planning and investment coordination initiatives. Another target was to support fifteen destination enhancement initiatives. The Committee was provided with a provincial breakdown of tourism infrastructure projects which contributed to full time equivalent jobs.

Programme 4: Tourism Sector Support Services
Ms Chettiar said that the programme purpose was to enhance transformation of the sector, increase skills levels and support development which would ensure SA was a competitive tourism destination. For 2019/20 the target was set to have three initiatives implemented to support NDT’s Domestic Tourism Growth Strategy and  to implement ten capacity building programmes.

Mr Ralph Ackerman, NDT Chief Financial Officer, said the budget was R2.3bn. A breakdown of the budget as per programme was provided.
 
Discussion
The Chairperson stated that perhaps some of the responses by NDT and SAT would have to be provided in writing due to time constraints.

Mr M Dangor (ANC, Gauteng) stated that the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) contributed towards the development of national policy. He asked how SALGA fitted in on efforts at local government level. Were tourism programmes broadcast on Ubuntu Radio? He asked whether NDT/SAT used SA missions to market SA as a tourist destination. He noted that when one took into consideration the compensation of SAT employees, the overall compensation of employees was much higher.

Minister Kubayi-Ngubane replied that there were SALGA representatives at MinMEC (Ministerial Member of Executive Council) level. The problem was that tourism did not feature in the Local Economic Development (LED) plans of local government. There was a forum on tourism that did meet with local government. NDT engaged with local government directly. Training had also been provided to municipalities. The challenge was about municipalities showing interest in the benefits of tourism. On missions, there were hub heads in place. Some good reports were being received from them. NDT tried to synchronise its work with DIRCO. Ubuntu Radio was only limited to certain countries. Tanzania was one country that received Ubuntu Radio.

Ms B Mathevula (EFF, Limpopo) pointed out that NDT had said that a contractor had been appointed at Shangoni Gate. She asked how far the project was and what progress had been made. Given that there had been talks between the Kruger National Park and Mozambique on the opening up of the Shangoni Gate she asked what progress had been made.

Minister Kubayi-Ngubane replied that the Shangoni Gate matter had been resolved. The issue was about a community dispute on where the gate should be located.

Ms H Boshoff (DA, Mpumalanga) asked how the protests that took place in SA affected the tourism sector. One had to take crime statistics into consideration. She pointed out that in Mpumalanga there were certain places where tourists had to use alternative routes because of violent protests. The safety of tourists was a concern. Crime was a problem. There had been issues at Numbi Gate. She was concerned about signage for the blind at the Kruger National Park. She felt the lack of Braille signage at the Park was disgusting. Only Airlink and private flights to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) from Cape Town were available. The flights were also very expensive. Could other airlines be brought on board to service the route? She asked if there were incentives in place for locals to visit national parks. She felt that perhaps local municipalities could assist with the provision of more information centres. On the Green Tourism Incentive Programme she asked if there were rebates provided for businesses going green. Things at Vredefort Dome did not look good yet it held so much potential. NDT was asked if the Mandarin language training of guides programme would be expanded to Mpumalanga. On NDT efforts in the training of youth, she asked how many had been placed in jobs, dropped out etc. The Minister of Finance had stated that all government departments would have budget cuts in the region of 5%, 6% or even 7%. How would this affect NDT?

Minister Kubayi-Ngubane stated that a stakeholder meeting had taken place over why the Numbi Gate was closed. The issue was about a Mdluli tribe land claim. The chief was apparently signing contracts without taking the community on board. NDT was trying to resolve this. Stakeholder engagement had been good. NDT had considered launching EPWP projects at Numbi Gate.

On crime and hijackings, NDT was working with SAPS and the relevant MEC on Safety. Efforts were being made to find solutions. NDT however did not have much control over protests. Government had a district approach on delivery models. Why were people protesting? The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs was looking at the matter and would get cooperation from other ministries. The Numbi Gate issue was being monitored. She gave the assurance that South African National Parks (SANParks) would be engaged about Braille. On flights to Mpumalanga, Nelspruit Airport was privately owned. The cost of a flight from Cape Town to Mpumalanga was the same price as the airport taxes that were charged. It was hugely expensive. The challenge was to bring in competition so that prices could come down.

On incentives for locals to visit parks, most of the time communities did not have the information. One initiative was that from 8-15 September 2019 there was free entry to most parks. It was all about having the information. On the Mandarin language programme, the intention was to have an innovation summit. The issue was about how best to use technology. The Chinese had complained that signage was mostly in English. They wished for it to be in Chinese. She conceded that budget cuts did impact on the work. There were no budget cuts for the EPWP Working for Tourism. NDT only had budgetary cuts where it was not doing well. On the Tourism Transformation Fund there had been cuts. NDT relied on contributions from the National Empowerment Fund (NEF). She explained that the approval scheme rate had been the issue. Incentives were looked at as a whole. She added that NDT did understand its role in growing the economy.

The Chairperson said that detail on incentives as a whole should be provided to the Committee, not only those pertaining to the green economy. He asked by what percentage the NDT budget had been reduced.

Mr T Brauteseth (DA, KwaZulu-Natal) asked where things were on Airbnb. He was concerned about the proposed legislation on Airbnb. How would the proposed legislation affect small, informal businesses that operated from the suburbs to the townships? He asked what the Minister’s vision was on the different types of tourism that were out there. There was conference tourism but the biggest by far was medical tourism. He asked how the vision of the National Health Insurance (NHI) and the current state of hospitals in SA would impact on medical tourism. How would the NHI affect medical tourism in SA?

Minister Kubayi-Ngubane replied about Airbnb that NDT looked at what was happening globally. She had met with Airbnb to discuss issues. The proposed legislation intended to regulate home-stays. NDT had done a benchmarking of what other countries were doing. The reason for the legislation was to prevent smaller establishments and their owners from getting into trouble because of non compliance with company or tax laws. People had to declare that they were using their homes for business purposes and had to register their income with the South African Revenue Service (SARS). The proposed legislation had gone out for public comment and the comments were being considered internally by NDT. She personally felt that that the proposed legislation was not responding to the needs of SAT. Perhaps the SAT needed standalone legislation. She had already raised the matter with Cabinet. She was however comfortable on the regulation of home-stays. Medical tourism was not only about persons coming to SA to have procedures done at private hospitals but also about persons coming from the African continent to use the services of government hospitals. The intention of the NHI was to improve the public health system. She added that even though persons belonged to medical aids they had to make cash contributions. The situation around quality health care for South African citizens was not what it should be.

Mr M Mmoiemang (ANC, Northern Cape) was concerned that the wine service/sommelier training programme had been discontinued in the Northern Cape due to lack of interest from the youth. He would take the matter up with the MEC on Tourism in the province. It seemed as though efforts showed a bias towards towns. Were villages being excluded? He pointed out that the briefing had not spoken to alignment between the three spheres of government. He suggested NDT work with the Department of Arts and Culture on heritage sites especially in rural poor areas. He asked about the alignment of the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS) to National Development Plan (NDP) targets and if there was a clash.

Minister Kubayi-Ngubane replied that bias to rural areas was important to NDT. EPWP projects were mostly in rural areas.

Ms Boshoff referred to the lack of interest by youth in the Northern Cape and asked if the problem was perhaps that the programmes were offered in English hen most of the youth in the Northern Cape spoke Afrikaans.

The Chairperson agreed her point was valid and perhaps NDT should look into the matter.

Mr Mmoeimang said that a huge chunk of NDT budget went towards the SAT. He asked how functional the SAT Board was. He added that it was not only about the functionality of the SAT CEO.

The Chairperson asked for the status of the amendments to the Tourism Act. NDT was asked if it had its own staff at missions. Did NDT use Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) staff to do its work abroad? He pointed out that in the audit outcomes there had been no baseline for the year 2017/18. On procurement common practice by government was to use agencies. How would one ensure that the third party used by the agency was Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) compliant? He noted that government spent billions on procurement. The issue was whether black people were benefitting from it. There was a tendency by government to use hotels for accommodation instead of using smaller places in townships. How could it be ensured that government and Parliament used smaller accommodation establishments in townships?

Minister Kubayi-Ngubane replied about procurement and B-BBEE compliance that the political heads and NDT officials were required to use accommodation establishments that were graded. NDT played its part. The NDT target was for procurement from B-BBEE companies was 30%.

SA Tourism (SAT) Annual Performance Plan (APP) 2019/20
Ms Bashni Muthaya, SAT Chief Strategy Officer, noted that the SAT performance on its 5-in-5 goal (4m international arrivals and 1m domestic holiday trips within 5 years) was below the required growth rates. Some challenges to international tourism growth were negative perceptions via media around safety and security in SA as well as regulatory issues with visa processing. Challenges to domestic tourism growth were also safety and security concerns, economic constraints as well as a lack of targeted marketing. Strategic focus areas for 2019/20 included collaborating with other government departments, implementing SAT’s events strategy as well as driving transformation in the sector. In the interests of time Ms Muthaya did not to go into the specifics of 2019/20 targets set for each its programmes but chose to highlight some of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of each.

Corporate Support Programme
With the aim of achieving operational efficiencies in all activities, some of the KPIs were staff satisfaction, labour turnover rate and percentage vacancy rate maintained.

Business Enablement Programme
On enhancing stakeholder and partnership collaboration, KPIs included quarterly stakeholder meetings and an annual national stakeholder meeting.

Leisure Tourism Marketing Programme
With the aim of contributing to inclusive economic growth by increasing international and domestic tourists, KPIs included number of international tourist arrivals, total tourist foreign direct spend, number of domestic holiday trips and domestic holiday revenue.

Business Events Programme
On contributing to an enhanced, recognised, appealing, resilient and competitive tourism and business events brand, KPIs included number of business events hosted, number of international delegates hosted, number of bids supported and number of bids supported for international and regional business events.

Tourist Experience Programme
With the aim of contributing to an improved tourist experience in line with the brand promise, KPIs included number of graded accommodation establishments and also the number of graded rooms.
 
Ms Nombulelo Guliwe, SAT Chief Financial Officer, spoke to the financials of SAT. For 2019/20 the SAT budget was R1.5bn. She noted that 70% of SAT’s funding went towards marketing.

Discussion
Mr Dangor observed that some members were leaving the meeting and said that members should stay in order for the Committee to remain quorate.

The Chairperson stated that members who had left the meeting should have indicated that they wished to leave. It was disrespectful to the Chairperson and to the Committee.

Mr Dangor said that SAT should consider having a strategy to change the negative perceptions of SA to positive ones. SAT needed to have different marketing strategies for backpackers and for big spenders.

Mr Enver Duminy SAT Board Member, replied about the negative perceptions about SA saying that there was a clear plan. SAT worked with the tourism sector to counteract negative messaging on SA. He explained that when there were incidents in SA, SAT provided the facts of the incident. There needed to be a clear, single message on what was happening. SAT engaged with different spheres of government. A collaborative effort was needed by both the public and private sectors. At DIRCO missions, NDT and SAT worked together. There was a need to be more agile and responsive on messaging.

Ms Boshoff suggested that SAT should engage with embassies to waylay negative messages about SA. How could embassies assist with this?

Mr Mmoiemang observed that SAT’s Africa budget sat only at 6%. Were there any benefits derived from SA’s partnership with Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) countries?

Ms Kate Rivett-Carnac SAT Board Member, explained that SAT worked on deliberate, detailed modeling. SAT made quite sophisticated choices. There were strategies in place for China and India. SA had provided visa waivers for Brazil and Russia.

Ms Guliwe clarified that the budget for Africa was different from the budget for West Africa. Most of Africa was serviced from the SAT Head Office.

The Chairperson asked if Tourism Marketing SA (TOMSA) levies should not be part of legislation.

Minister Kubayi-Ngubane replied that a tourism tax was an option and that the Minister of Finance was considering it. She noted that SA was doing quite well on tourism compared to the rest of Africa. SA could however still do more as it had so many tourist attractions. Africa was a critical market for SA to tap into. When visa waivers had been granted to Angola, tourists from Angola had flocked to SA. Now that Ghana was granted a visa waiver, the tourist numbers from Ghana too were expected to rise.

Minutes dated 23 July 2019 was adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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