National Tourism Sector Strategy: Department briefing; Tourism BRRR

Tourism

22 October 2019
Chairperson: Mr S Mahumapelo (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Available here once adopted: BRRR 2019 

The National Department of Tourism (NDT) briefed the Committee on its National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS). Members were provided with background on the NTSS and also on what the NTSS entailed. What was being presented before the Committee was the second iteration of the NTSS. It had been adopted in December 2017.The NTSS was a sector strategy with multi-players involved in growing tourism. The Committee was provided with an overview of the five strategic pillars of the NTSS ie Effective Marketing; Facilitating Ease of Access; The Visitor Experience; Destination Management and lastly Broad Based Benefits. The NDT was at the cusp of implementing the NTSS. For the successful implementation of the revised NTSS it depended on the commitment of all stakeholders to adopt an integrated approach in implementing the NTSS’ priorities and actions. One of the challenges around implementation was institutional mechanisms. There had to be a concerted effort by national, provincial, regional and local. 

Members agreed that on ease of access for tourists to SA, packages had to be put together. Members asked about flight routes, the cost of airlift strategies, future plans for marine and rail travel, implementation of the NTSS, the strategy for small dorpies, transformation of the sector and partnerships with other departments.

The Committee adopted its Draft 2019 Budgetary Review and Recommendations (BRRR) Report. 

The Chairperson tabled the Committee’s Draft Dashboard for tracking tourism projects. The Dashboard enabled members to see which projects the NDT implemented and what the progress on them was. The Committee would on a quarterly basis be updated. A template was also to be created for the tracking of resolutions taken by the Committee and on how the NDT was responding to them. Members would be appraised on a monthly basis.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks
The Chairperson said that congratulations were in order to the National Springbok Rugby Team who had made it to the semi-finals of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. He noted that from a brand consolidation marketing perspective one need only concentrate on the countries that made it to the finals. One of them would of course be the Springboks. The Springboks had a score to settle with the New Zealand Rugby Team. He asked how SA Tourism would maximise the opportunity that the Rugby World Cup had brought to the fore. How would the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture organise a type of parade through the provinces when the Springboks returned home. The Committee would send its congratulations to the Springboks. He however said that the South African National Cricket Team, the Proteas, were performing badly against India. They were not even competitive. It was a total disaster.

He pointed out that October was Oliver Tambo Month. He felt that SA was not doing enough to celebrate Oliver Tambo. There was the occasional lecture and seminar here and there. He pointed out that there was another ANC stalwart that should also be celebrated and his name was Mr Pixley ka Isaka Seme. Mr Seme was the one that had conceptualised the forerunner to the African National Congress, the South African Native National Congress. He too, like Oliver Tambo, was born in October. September was Tourism Month as well. The Chairperson said that an overall effort needed to be made the following year to have celebrations in September and October. Tourists from countries that Oliver Tambo had visited could make their way to SA. The right package needed to be put together. There had to be a tourism mindset. Opportunities for tourism had to be seen at every corner.  Every variable had to be considered if the 22m tourists by 2030 target as set by President Cyril Ramaphosa were to be met. Some variables could be controlled whilst others like unpredictable President Donald Trump could not. There was no way of knowing what extremes President Trump could go to. Even the protests in Hong Kong were a concern.

Things in Hong Kong and China were explosive. The President of China said that he would crush protests. Even Britain’s exit from the European Union (Brexit) had been postponed. There were thus many variables around the world that affected international tourism numbers. SA therefore to a large extent had to rely on domestic tourism. There were things in SA that needed to be rectified. He did not consider the problems within political parties in SA as a major risk. There were bigger problems to worry about. Without a doubt youth unemployment was the biggest risk. There was pent up frustrations and one day it would erupt. There were already signs of it happening ie the Fees Must Fall Campaign. Things were bottling up with the youth. It was for this reason that Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) tourism projects should be done correctly. The Minister of Tourism, Ms Mamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane and Deputy Minister of Tourism, Mr Amos Mahlalela, had extended apologies to the Committee for not being able to attend the meeting. Minister Kubayi-Ngubane was on a global marketing tour and Deputy Minister Mahlalela was on a visit to Tanzania.

Ms Lulama Duma, Acting Director-General, NDT, Duma tendered an apology for the Director-General of the NDT, Mr Victor Tharage, who was on the tour with the Minister. She pointed out that two years ago during Oliver Tambo celebrations there had been an inter-province youth programme. The NDT also had to work with the Department of Transport as October was also Transport Month.

She indicated that what was to be presented to the Committee was the second iteration of the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS). It had been adopted in December 2017. The NDT was at the cusp of implementing the NTSS. There were however many things that had to be addressed. It was the first time that the current iteration of the NTSS was being presented to the Committee. The briefing would speak to what action plans were there to implement. It was all about partnerships. There was a link with the private sector and with communities. The ultimate aim was after all to grow tourism. Unemployment and poverty in SA had to be addressed. The NTSS was a national priority. She noted that when SA Tourism (SAT) would speak to the marketing aspects of the NTSS when it appeared before the Committee next month.

The Chairperson in the interests of time asked the NDT to focus on the critical aspects of the NTSS.   

Briefing by the National Department of Tourism (NDT) on its National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS)
Ms Sibongumusa Ngidi, Acting Deputy Director General: Tourism Research, Policy and International Relations, NDT, at the outset provided background on the NTSS and also spoke to what the NTSS entailed. The NTSS was a sector strategy with multi-players involved in growing tourism. The Committee was provided with an overview of the strategic pillars of the NTSS:

Effective Marketing
With the objective of expanding and improving domestic marketing activities and travel facilitation programmes the action to be taken was to implement a substantially enhanced and expanded Domestic Tourism Marketing Strategy. SA Tourism would take the lead on the Strategy and contributing partners would be provincial departments, local government (particularly cities), trade, product owners and the NDT.

Facilitating Ease of Access
In keeping with the objective of improving airlift access, particularly for priority markets one of the actions was to monitor air service agreements, routes, carriers, air seats and local factors from priority source markets and major carriers connecting priority markets to SA. The departments taking lead would be the Department of Transport and the NDT.

The Visitor Experience
In line with the objective of diversifying and enhancing tourism product offerings the action to be taken was to investigate and develop tourism niche market products with the highest ability to attract more travellers in line with the competitiveness of a locality eg marine and coastal tourism, science tourism and adventure tourism etc. Taking lead would be provincial departments and the NDT. Contributing partners were SAT, the Tourism Business Council of SA (TBCSA), provincial tourism marketing agencies, local government and relevant government departments.

Destination Management
With the objective of improving the understanding of and enhancing support for tourism across national government the action planned was to develop and communicate the socio-economic case for tourism as an effective briefing tool for senior officials and Ministers. The NDT would take lead with contributing partners being the TBCSA, SAT and provincial departments.

Broad Based Benefits
To achieve the objective of meeting Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) targets the action planned was to develop a range of proposals for inclusive growth across the tourism value chain and implement the recommended and agreed upon actions. The lead department was the NDT and contributing partners were the Tourism BEE Council and private sector (procurement managers of large and medium tourism firms).

Ms Ngidi stated that for the successful implementation of the revised NTSS it depended on the commitment of all stakeholders to adopt an integrated approach in implementing the NTSS’ priorities and actions. One of the challenges around implementation was institutional mechanisms. There had to be a concerted effort by national, provincial, regional and local. 

Discussion
Mr H Gumbi (DA), on facilitating ease of access to SA (slide 17), agreed that packages had to be put together to attract tourists to the country. He asked if tourists were given cell phone Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards when they arrived in SA. On Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication Related Information Act (RICA) requirements, he asked whether it was good enough for tourists to provide copies of their passports and to give their hotel addresses. On improving airlift access (slide 18), he asked whether SAT had engaged with the Airports Company of SA (ACSA) to have taxes reduced on airlift strategies. Was there a plan to reduce prices? He said that taxes made up most of the costs of flights. He pointed out that the Committee had a type of a dashboard where it could track and monitor tourism infrastructure projects around SA. Did the NDT have its own list of tourism infrastructure projects around SA? The NDT ought to have a list. The Committee should be getting the list from the NDT. On facilitating tourist travel by improving private and public transport (slide 24), he noted that most tourists would use Uber or Bolt. Travel agencies most probably would organise group transportation. Why were minibus taxis not used for the transport of local and foreign tourists? He was aware that safety was perhaps an issue. He asked whether there had been engagements with the taxi industry on the matter.

Ms Ngidi, on the five pillars of the NTSS, assured the Committee that at workstream level the work that needed to be done at community level was looked at. She said that the airlift strategy sat with the Department of Transport. The NDT though did play an active role in the development of the airlift strategy. The NDT did interact with ACSA and as such the matter of the airlift strategy could be raised with them. On airport taxes, there was a perception that taxes were higher than plane ticket prices. She clarified that actual taxes were not so high. What was high was user based fees. The tax component was not that high. Taxes on a domestic ticket were around a R100. There were thus other costs involved on the use of infrastructure. 

Ms Duma said that Mr Krumbock had always raised the matter of airport taxes in the past. There was a belief that taxes made up 30% of total ticket prices. She would check with her colleague, Ms Aneme Malan, Deputy Director General: Tourism Research, Policy and International Relations, on interactions with the ACSA in this regard.

Mr M de Freitas (DA), on a flight strategy, asked whether there was engagement between the tourism and South African Airways (SAA) and other role players on which routes should be prescribed given what tourism aimed to achieve. A concern was that sometimes domestic flights cost more than international flights. For instance, a flight to George in the Eastern Cape cost more than a flight to London. It was mind boggling. It was of utmost importance to get South Africans to travel as domestic tourism was extremely important. Why were local flights so expensive? He noted that if there was no formal debate then it should be initiated. Some said that for instance the George flight was expensive because there was no demand. Others said that because there was no demand it was expensive.

Ms Ngidi said that the decision on which routes should be prescribed was a commercial one. At domestic level things were deregulated. Air traffic rights were granted at state level. The NDT did participate in relevant structures. The NDT helped to drive demand on specific routes. Marketing assistance was provided. There was work done in the background.

Ms M Gomba (ANC) asked the NDT whether there were future plans for marine travel. She was specifically speaking about cruises between ports like Cape Town and Durban. She also felt that more could be done on rail transport as SA had a good rail infrastructure. There were the Blue and the Premier Class Trains. There were other modes of transport that needed to be considered besides air travel.

Ms Ngidi accepted the inputs made on a rail and marine modes of transport. Work was being done on marine in terms of cruise ship tours but on rail not as much as yet.

Mr Kabelo Motumi, Acting Director: Strategy Development, NDT, stated that the NDT did recognise the importance of developing niche markets. These were however not outlined specifically in the NTSS. For instance, there was science tourism which revolved around the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

Ms Duma, on marine travel, stated that product diversification was important. The NDT did have a Coasts and Marine Tourism Strategy. The Strategy was around cruise lines between the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces. Her colleague, Ms Shamilla Chettiar, would elaborate on it at another time.

Ms S Xego (ANC) asked whether the NTSS addressed the current challenge of transformation in the tourism sector. People needed to see change in the sector. The NTSS should not maintain the status quo. Would the person living in a village see the benefit of tourism at long last? She asked whether President Cyril Ramaphosa’s target of having 22m tourists by 2030 was realistic. Did the NDT see the target being achieved? She said that she had not seen anything on the creation of sustainable jobs under strategic plans. If it was correct that the NDT tracked the implementation of the NTSS on a quarterly basis she asked whether the Committee could be privy to it so that it could check whether the NTSS was working. How did the NTSS assist with the issue of tourism being an unfunded mandate in municipalities? What type of lobbying could be done for National Treasury to fund tourism in municipalities? If partnerships were key in tourism she asked whether there was a strategy that could assist with coordination.

Ms Ngidi, on sustainable jobs, said that there were 700 full time jobs created. The intention was to decrease the seasonality component of tourism so that events that could make tourism activities more sustainable were looked at. On the coordination of partnerships, it was done two-fold in respect of institutional mechanisms.  There were work streams and there were tourism organisations at various levels such as MinMECs. There were also bilateral engagements with the Departments of Transport, Home Affairs and Environment etc.

Ms Duma said that when SA Tourism next came to the Committee it could speak to product development. There was a need for tourism to be sustainable and not be seasonal. She could not with any certainty say that the 22m tourist target would be met but she could give the assurance that work was being done towards meeting the target.

The Chairperson asked whether the NTSS was amendable. The NTSS had been adopted by cabinet in 2017.

Ms Duma responded that the NTSS had to be responsive to the environment. The NTSS could be tweaked when needed. It was a ten-year strategy but it was agile.

Ms Ngidi noted the comments by Members. She said that there was a process to review the NTSS.

The Chairperson felt that the heading on slide 35 should be changed from Broad Based Benefits to Transformation. Broad Based Benefits could be placed in brackets next to the heading of Transformation. He observed that nothing in the NTSS spoke to small dorpies. The NTSS should speak about small dorpies. There was a great deal of small dorpies in SA. The largest concentration was to be found in what used to be called the Transvaal under Apartheid. This was followed by the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Western Cape Provinces as far as concentration was concerned. Small dorpies held huge opportunities for tourism. With the NTSS being agile there was a need to include small dorpies. He further observed that villages too did not feature in the NTSS. Yes, the NTSS did speak to rural but when one looked closely to the rural economic activity being referred to it was farms and game parks. There was no district focus on villages. By using the term rural a skewed picture was given. He noted that Statistics SA (StatsSA) did not have statistics on all the villages that were in SA. He would write a letter to the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and to traditional leaders requesting a list of all the villages in SA. At local level the Committee would put in place an oversight forum. He once again on slide 33 suggested that in the last bullet next to the words “rural areas” the word “villages” be added.

The Chairperson stated that transformation should not be about black and white. It should be about addressing poverty in SA. Poverty was rife in villages and in townships. Water, roads, sanitation and a transport network was really needed in villages. Villages tend to be worse off than townships. Security was not really an issue in villages. The status quo in the tourism sector had to be fiddled with. There were huge amounts of unemployed youth in villages and townships. In the past small dorpies in SA did not have informal settlements but now there were. Poverty was pushing people towards where they thought there to be greater economic activity.  He observed that from a development economic point of view the Executive looked at things differently. There was a belief that developing cities had to absorb people. He on the other felt that the periphery had to be developed to reduce migration. He cautioned that if one was not careful one could perpetuate the status quo of rural to city migration. He noted that the Committee had come up with a list of seventeen departments that the NDT needed to work with. Each department had a role to play. The problem was that in the Executive there was a silo mentality of how departments ought to operate. The Committee would, together with the NDT, lobby towards a policy-based working relationship between the NDT and the seventeen departments. Each department would have an identified role. He stated that President Ramaphosa needed to call a meeting with the seventeen departments about how they needed to work with the NDT towards the goal of reaching 22m tourists by 2030. The NDT needed to know what each department was doing before things arrived at cabinet level. From a policy perspective he asked what enforcement mechanisms had to be put in place to see to it that tourism succeeded. Each department had to play its role. President Ramphosa should evaluate his Ministers on whether their departments had done what they were supposed to about meeting the 22m tourists target. Everyone should pull together. Failing this, the 22m target would not be reached.

Mr Motumi explained that the NDT did have a Rural Tourism Strategy. He said that perhaps what needed to be concentrated on was what the Chairperson had highlighted.

Ms Duma said that in villages work was being done on homestays. Work on homestays was also done in small dorpies. When the NDT next appeared before the Committee she would her colleague to speak to the NDT’s Rural Tourism Strategy. This would cover homestays. On the NDT needing to work together with the seventeen departments, she would bring the matter to the Minister’s attention. Partnerships were covered in the NTSS. She stated that the implementation report did speak to transformation and it would be provided to the Committee.

Mr Gumbi pointed out that there were a string of costs attached to tourism. There were visa costs, airport taxes etc. Everyone involved had to sit around a table and discuss matters. He said that his question on SIM cards and taxis remained unanswered.

Ms Ngidi responded that she was not too sure about the SIM card issue but would find out more about it. It had to be remembered that where a service was provided say for instance on visas the cost of providing that service had to be recouped. Tourists did not in the main use minibus taxis. It could be because of the manner in which minibus taxis operated. Minibus taxis also operated on fixed routes. There were also concerns around safety and around how they treated passengers.

Ms Gomba pointed out that when she went over the border to Lesotho she had to pay R30. Was the same applicable for persons coming over the borders into SA?

Ms Duma stated that she would look into the matter. Inputs made by Members were noted.

The Chairperson said that the Committee hoped to, on a quarterly or annual basis, check on how the NTSS was doing.


Consideration of the Draft 2019 Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR)
The Chairperson said that Members had up until Friday 18 October 2019 to make inputs on the Draft 2019 BRRR.

Dr Sibusiso Khuzwayo, Committee Content Adviser, responded that all inputs made by members in the Committee’s previous meeting had been consolidated into the BRRR. If members wished to make additional recommendations it could be incorporated as well.

The Chairperson placed the Draft 2019 BRRR before the Committee for adoption and it was adopted as amended.

Committee Minutes
The Minutes dated 15 October 2019 was adopted unamended.

Other Matters
The Chairperson said that in the Committee’s previous meeting there had been interesting developments between Mr April and Mr Krumbock. These developments were however off the record. He had held a meeting with the two members and the matter was now settled and closed. He and the two affected members had agreed to update the Committee over the matter.

He asked Dr Khuzwayo to speak to the NDT about not having disjointed strategies like the Rural Tourism Strategy and the Coastal and Marine Tourism Strategy that was mentioned. These should rather be added as addendums to the NTSS. He further remarked that homestays was not a strategy and that villages needed attention.

Tabling of Draft Dashboard for tracking tourism projects
The Chairperson pointed out that the Committee had its own Resolutions and Departmental Infrastructure Project Tracking System. It would seem as if the NDT did not have its own list.

Ms Gomba said that timeframes needed to be attached to resolutions.

Dr Khuzwayo explained that there were two technical resolutions. There was firstly reporting on infrastructure projects. A dashboard was created for Members to see which projects were being implemented by the NDT. Also to check on what level of implementation projects were. The Committee would on a quarterly basis be updated. The template would be formulated by the NDT and thereafter be provided to the Committee. There would also be tracking of resolutions. The Committee Secretary would circulate another template to the Committee on resolutions of the Committee. The Committee would look at what resolutions it had taken and what the NDT had done about them. Members would be appraised on a monthly basis. The NDT had to support the Committee’s resolutions. 
 
The meeting was adjourned.

 

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