The Committee was briefed by the National Department of Tourism (NDT) on the implementation of programmes as per the National Rural Tourism Strategy which had been developed in 2012. The NDT had identified a need to unlock tourism in rural areas. Some of the goals of the Strategy were to create a platform to share knowledge of best practice, development opportunities and challenges in rural areas for tourism development and also to facilitate the coordination of rural tourism development initiatives amongst relevant stakeholders. The Committee was provided with insight into Programmes which spoke to implementation. These were the Capacity Building and Skills Development Programme, the Enterprise Development and Transformation Programme, the Tourism Incentive Programme and the Product Development (Destination Development) Programme. The NDT had also conducted an audit on Universal Accessibility (UA) in five provincial parks and members were assured that the recommendations coming out of the audit would be implemented. Access for disabled persons was a key priority for the NDT. The Committee was also provided with detail on initiatives around SA’s World Heritage Sites.
Members felt that the level of implementation on the Strategy had been slow given that the Strategy had already been developed in 2012. The NDT was asked whether the Strategy had been updated since its launch in 2012. Members asked what criteria were used to choose projects and how they were prioritised. Members appreciated the efforts of the NDT in terms of the Strategy but observed that there were no dates attached. When had training programmes taken place? The Committee needed to be given dates and places. Members emphasised the importance of sustainability when things were done. The NDT was asked whether all efforts translated into jobs and opportunities for participants in programmes. Was there follow through? The NDT was also asked to provide the Committee with a provincial breakdown of figures of youth that had participated in various programmes. Members on capacity building suggested that the NDT assist municipalities with the drafting of their Master Plans. Members felt that over the past 25 years enough marketing had been done on places like Vilakazi Street in Soweto, Gauteng. It was now time to focus on other areas/sites that had not been marketed at all. For one the Sharpeville Heritage Site was being neglected and was in dire need of funds. Members emphasised the need for tourism to focus on villages, townships and small dorpies. Members were not convinced that enough was being done to inform foreigners about the experiences that could be had in rural areas. There was a great deal on offer in rural areas for tourists. Tourists could be served traditional meals and could be entertained with song and dance. Members felt that SA Tourism needed to package these types of experiences. SA’s rural areas were unique and the experiences were one of a kind. People needed to think out of the box. Members pointed out that there were hotels providing top notch training to young people. The NDT was asked whether there were linkages between hotels that offered this type of training and the training that the NDT provided. Could efforts be synchronised? Were the person’s participating in the NDT’s programmes from rural areas? The NDT was asked to provide the Committee with a breakdown of the profiles of the persons participating in its programmes. Members observed that it would seem as though for the past 25 years that the status quo in the industry had been maintained.
The Chairperson stated that poverty, inequality and unemployment were rife in the periphery of SA ie villages, townships and small dorpies. Efforts should be focussed on these areas. The NDT had to partner with the Department of Arts and Culture and with the Department of Small Business Development. SA Tourism needed to put packages together on what was on offer in villages, townships and small dorpies. Each place would have unique offerings and product diversity was what was needed. He elaborated on some of the possible offerings in villages other than food, sing and dance. Tourists could be given insight into cultural and religious practises as well as how governance structures worked. Government departments had to work together and private sector should be taken on board. He disagreed with the accepted belief on what constituted rural ie game farms, game parks and heritage sites. The Strategy presented to the Committee reinforced the accepted belief of what constituted rural. He emphasised that when it came to rural the focus should be on villages. Villages needed to have a village development plan. There was also a need for a district development plan. He said that currently this was not the approach being followed. He felt it important for local and domestic tourism to grow since international tourism was unpredictable.
The Chairperson thanked the NDT for the invitation to the Lilizela Awards that had taken place on Saturday, 9 November 2019. The event had been well organised. The cultural aspects of the event had been good. He was impressed that disabled persons were also recognised in tourism and that they made meaningful contributions. He was touched by the spirit of a young blind barista who was considered one of the best in SA. He added that black participation in the tourism sector had to increase but not at the expense of whites.
Ms Morongoe Ramphele, Deputy Director General: Tourism Sector Support Services, NDT, noted that transformation was still an issue in the sector but said that progress was being made.
Briefing by the National Department of Tourism (NDT) on the implementation of programmes as per the National Rural Tourism Strategy
Dr Thabo Manetsi, Director: Tourism Integration, NDT, said that in 2012 both rural and cultural strategies were developed. Both the strategies were inter-related and was implemented concurrently. He stated that there was a need to unlock tourism in rural areas. Some of the goals of the Strategy were to create a platform to share knowledge of best practice, development opportunities and challenges in rural areas for tourism development and also to facilitate the coordination of rural tourism development initiatives amongst relevant stakeholders. The Committee was provided with insight into Programmes which spoke to implementation.
Capacity Building and Skills Development Programme
Local government induction was introduced and amongst the beneficiaries were municipal officials in Local Economic Development and Tourism units. The problem was that municipalities did not see the benefit of tourism in growing their revenue. Detail was also provided on youth training projects. These included the National Youth Chefs Training Programme; the Youth in Hospitality Service Training Programme; the Food Safety Programme and the Tourism Blue Flag Programme. There was also the Executive Women Development Programme and tourist guide training.
Enterprise Development and Transformation Programme
The rationale for the Programme was because Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) had problems around access to finance and credit, lack of access to markets and problems around regulatory compliance to mention a few. Interventions that the Programme introduced included incubation, market access assistance, supplier development, mentorship and coaching as well as training and development.
Detail was provided on initiatives introduced by the NDT.
Dr Manetsi stated that the NDT used to have the Tourism Enterprise Partnership (TEP) in place from 2010 to 2017. He felt that the TEP should be brought back.
Tourism Incentive Programme
The Programme was implemented across all nine provinces and covered both urban and rural areas. Sub-programmes within the Programme included the Market Access Support Programme (MASP), the Tourism Grading Support Programme (TGSP) and the Green Tourism Incentive Programme (GTIP). Detail on each of the sub-programmes was provided to the Committee. There was also a Tourism Transformation Fund (TTF) which was administered by the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) on behalf of the NDT.
Product Development (Destination Development) Programme
Tourism Master Plans were put in place. Master Plans set out immediate to longer term institutional plans for the development of specific geographic areas of tourism potential, to unlock funding and investment promotion and to leverage on key strategic partners for implementation. Master Plans would support rural tourism development strategies and initiatives based on sound concepts, feasibility studies or packaging. Implementation of such plans was earmarked to create jobs and to transform the sector. Implementation of such plans was earmarked to create jobs and transform the sector. Members were provided with detail on destination development initiatives.
The NDT had also conducted an audit on Universal Accessibility (UA) in five provincial parks and members were assured that the recommendations coming out of the audit would be implemented. Access for disabled persons was a key priority for the NDT. The Committee was also provided with detail on initiatives around SA’s World Heritage Sites.
Mr K Sithole (IFP) was concerned that the Strategy had already been developed in 2012. It was already 2019 and he felt that the level of its implementation was slow. He asked for a breakdown of the figure of 2072 young persons per province that had participated in the National Youth Chefs Training Programme (Slide 14). He also asked for breakdowns of the figures of the 5 783 youth that had participated in the Youth in Hospitality Service Training Programme (Slide 15) and of the 600 learners that had participated in the Food Safety Programme (Slide 17).
Ms M Gomba (ANC), on capacity building, suggested that the NDT assist municipalities with the drafting of their Master Plans. If municipalities did not have proper Master Plans in place, then they were unable to upgrade heritage sites and as such there could be no job creation. In municipalities there was a lack of capacity on the drafting of Master Plans. Having no proper Master Plans in place did not allow them to access the finance that they needed. On skills development, she suggested that the Tourism Grading Council of SA (TGCSA) be brought on board so that all graded establishments should absorb recruited persons from the food safety programme. She felt that there needed to be quality control on food. She understood that enough marketing work was done on Vilakazi Street in Soweto but felt that perhaps the efforts should be spread across Gauteng. She pointed out that that the Sharpeville Heritage Site was being neglected. It was in dire need of funds.
Mr Z Peter (ANC) said that the focus should be on villages, townships and small dorpies. In the Eastern Cape, a Norwegian government official had bought eight farms and had combined them into a game farm. He noted that more than a 100 families had been displaced when this was done in 2008. For all these years he had been tracking the matter. In 2015/16 the Norwegian official had been convicted and had been sentenced to eight years imprisonment. At the time of the matter he had been the mayor of Makanda. When the arrest had been made he saw it as an opportunity for government to buy the farms back to redress the wrongs done to the families that had been displaced. This however did not happen. The farms were bought by a racist white person. This matter had triggered his concern over rural areas. There were so many areas that were not taken on board when it came to tourism efforts. When efforts were made in rural areas it was more around game farms, game parks etc. Rural tourism had to benefit the people. He intended to write a letter to the Minister of Tourism over the matter of the 100 families that had been displaced.
Mr P Moteka (EFF) appreciated the efforts made by the NDT on rural tourism. The Committee had to be pleased with the efforts of the NDT as the programmes were initiated prior to the Committee coming into being. The Committee’s focus was on villages, townships and small dorpies. Going forward the NDT should now pursue efforts in this direction. He noted that there was a schools focussed programme on sports. The one issue that he had was that schools that already were developed were continuously being financed whilst others were not. The point he was making was that these developed schools could still be maintained but that there should be deliberate efforts to focus on rural areas. It was not good enough that huge rural provinces only produced one star athlete. There was a great deal of raw talent in rural areas. The focus in Limpopo was always on the Kruger National Park and other parks. There were many other areas in the province that needed attention. There was simply no economic activity in many areas. The Northern Cape Province too had high poverty. He felt that government needed to take deliberate action to assist people. The focus of the Committee was on villages, townships and small dorpies because members had observed how poor people in these areas were. The NDT was being given a new priority ie villages, townships and small dorpies. The next time that the NDT presented on its Strategy the Committee did not wish to hear about efforts in the Kruger National Park and other parks. The Committee would on a continuous basis bring up villages, townships and small dorpies. The NDT in the near future needed to provide the Committee with lists of villages, townships and small dorpies that it had focussed efforts on.
Ms L Mahubela-Mashele (ANC) shared the sentiments expressed by fellow Committee members. In as much as there was a Strategy the reality was that there were no products in localities. Resources were needed to develop products. In villages the situation was very complex and difficult. The village person did not own the land that they were on. They simply had a right to occupy. In order to access loans a bank needed collateral. Villagers did not possess the title deeds of the land that they occupied so they could not get finance. She asked the NDT to fast track efforts for village persons to get title deeds to the land that they occupied. The NDT also needed to report on what was being done in villages. Tourism products had to be provided in villages. The NDT had to work with its sister departments on efforts in villages which included people getting title deeds to land that they occupied. Rural development needed to take place. Ownership of land in townships and villages also had to be fast tracked.
Mr M de Freitas (DA) asked whether the Strategy had been updated since its launch in 2012. He asked what criteria was used to choose projects and how were they prioritised. He was pleased with the programmes that the NDT had in place but pointed out that there were no dates attached. When had training programmes taken place? The Committee needed to be given dates and places. He emphasised that importance of sustainability. He asked whether all the efforts translated into jobs and opportunities for the participants in programmes. Was there follow through?
Mr G Krumbock (DA) pointed out that the challenge in many countries was urbanisation. Unfortunately, urban areas are where the opportunities were. Efforts to start projects in rural areas could be likened to swimming against the tide. He was not convinced that enough was being done to inform foreigners about the experiences that could be had in rural areas. When tourists came to rural areas they could be served traditional meals, they could be entertained by dance or song, they could meet the amakosi and even the local sangoma. SA Tourism needed to package these types of experiences. Many of the experiences in SA’s rural areas were one of a kind. People needed to think out of the box. More could be done. On the training of youth as chefs he pointed out that there were hotels who also offered training to youngsters. He said that in the Howick area in KwaZulu-Natal Province there was a hotel that offered training to youngsters. They were given free board and lodging whilst they were being trained. They were not being paid, nor did they get a stipend. He said that it was top of the range training that they were receiving. The hotel’s training was accredited by a London based company. He asked how prevalent such training by hotels was in the industry. Was it being done in the whole of SA? The briefing had spoken to the training that the NDT offered. He asked whether there were linkages between hotels that offered this type of training and the NDT with its efforts. Could efforts be synchronised? He stated that there was a farm protocol programme in place which essentially was an agreement between the farmer and farm workers around what was and what was not allowed in the interests of security. He said that it seemed to work well.
Ms Ramphele noted that the training provided by the NDT in terms of its programmes was also accredited through a London based company. Going forward the NDT would collaborate with the Department of Basic Education. There was also Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the Department of Higher Education. Education had to start at scholar level. The NDT would also look into working with the Department of Arts and Culture and with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.
Mr T Khalipha (ANC) said that it seemed that for the past 25 years the status quo had been maintained in the industry. He pointed out that the Committee had not been present when the Rural Strategy had been developed. The Committee could therefore not criticise the Strategy but wanted things to take a different direction. Yes, the Committee appreciated efforts made on Vilakazi Steet in Soweto but efforts needed to be redirected. Madiba was born in Qunu in the Eastern Cape yet not much was done to market the place as a tourist destination. He said that there were many stories to be told of freedom struggle stalwarts like Mr Clarence Makwetu who had been the leader of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania. Most struggle stalwarts came from rural areas and not from urban areas. The status quo was being maintained because people had been co-opted into the status quo. The Committee could not condone what was happening. He said that the constituencies of members were unhappy with things in the sector. The NDT had to listen to what the Committee was saying. When the NDT next presented its Strategy to the Committee there should be a focus on villages, townships and small dorpies. The Committee needed to be told what the efforts of the NDT was to be on tourism in villages, townships and small dorpies. If government made an effort then there was no need for people to migrate from rural to urban areas. Funding had to be redirected to rural areas. Were the persons participating in the programmes of the NDT from rural areas? The NDT needed to provide the Committee with a breakdown of the profiles of the persons participating in programmes. His instinct told him that 90% of the participants were most probably from urban areas. Action was needed. He suggested that an investigation be done on the matter raised by Mr Peter. He noted that a rural and township strategy had to be linked to the district model in municipalities.
Ms Ramphele said that figures on profiling of students with regards to participation in programmes would be provided to the Committee. There was participation from all provinces but not on specifics from which villages people came from.
Mr Moteka reiterated that the focus of tourism should be on villages, townships and small dorpies. Work should be done to make them the destination of choice for tourists. The NDT needed to work with the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) on some of the issues.
Ms M Gomba (ANC) also agreed that the Committee on the Rural Strategy of the NDT needed to see what direction was being taken. The Committee should also be shown how efforts were to be directed towards villages, townships and small dorpies. A proper strategy needed to be put in place. She said that in Gauteng Province in her constituency provincial local economic development efforts were being made to grow small businesses. Ward by ward efforts were being made to uplift small businesses. She pointed out that a similar approach could be used on tourism in villages, townships and small dorpies.
The Chairperson stated that the National Development Plan (NDP) aimed to eradicate poverty, inequality and unemployment. Poverty, inequality and unemployment were rife in the periphery of SA ie villages, townships and small dorpies. Efforts should be focussed on these areas. If this was not done, then the aims of the NDP would not be realised. Migration patterns were from rural to urban areas because of poverty. The NDT needed to partner with the Departments of Arts and Culture and Small Business Development. SA Tourism needed to put packages together on what was being offered in villages, townships and small dorpies. On a monthly basis there could be different groups performing with sing and dance. The Department of Education should also come on board to educate kids about cultural practises of slaughtering sheep and cattle. Other activities could be donkey rides, horse riding and also insights into religious practises and beliefs in particular areas. Tourists could be educated on how lobola worked and how the dead were buried and how belief systems tied in with ancestors. Practical things such as the preparation of food and drink could also be part of the experience. Even the governance systems used in villages could be of interest to tourists. Funding was not needed to get many of these types of activities off the ground. There were many things that could easily be packaged for tourists. Government departments just needed to work together.
The Chairperson said that what was seen as rural by some was not considered rural to others. He for one disagreed with experts and even with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform on what constituted rural. Some considered state or private owned state of the art game parks or game farms as being rural tourism. These parks and game farms were worth billions of rands. The one thing that did not form part of the picture was villages. Villages were poor and lacked infrastructure. The people in villages did not even own the land that they occupied. The Strategy that the NDT presented to the Committee reinforced the game farms, the game parks and heritage sites that were already well known. There was no work done on villages. Something drastic needed to be done on each and every village. The investment need not be in a monetary form. There could be intangible capital where village youngsters were educated. He suggested that private sector be taken on board. There could be integration with TVET Colleges. The Department of Public Works could look at improving roads to villages. He stated that the NDT could not be forced to do what members suggested. It was up to the NDT to take suggestions on board. He said that the Minister of Tourism needed to speak to counterparts in Arts, Education and Small Business. President Cyril Ramaphosa had spoken about district models. Villages needed to have a village development plan. There was also a need for a district development plan. He stated that currently this was not the approach. He did make the point that he considered himself not to be a conventional person. The NDT was directed to make its closing remarks. There was no need to respond to issues raised as much of the inputs were mostly comments.
Ms Ramphele, in closing, thanked the Committee for its comments and suggestions. She was aware of the district model. She said that a difference needed to be made to the lives of people in rural areas ie villages. The problem was that officials still worked in silos. As suggested the NDT would zoom into villages. She did point out that the NDT very much leveraged off other departments. For instance, for the NDT to do its work in villages other departments had to put basic services like water and roads in place. Another problem was a lack of integration between the three spheres of government. It was a question about all departments coming together to change the face of villages.
Dr Manetsi said that he enjoyed the robust interaction with the Committee. He noted the Committee’s comments around villages, townships and small dorpies. He would pass on the message of the Committee to his colleagues in the NDT.
The Chairperson responded that the Committee would continue to work with the NDT. The issue at hand was to have transformation in the sector. It was not about destroying what was already in place but rather about focussing on where there was nothing. Addressing the NDT, he stated that in 2020 the Strategy should take on board what the Committee had said around villages, townships and small dorpies. He felt it important for local and domestic tourism to grow since international tourism was unpredictable. Why were more funds spent on marketing international tourism than on domestic tourism?
The meeting was adjourned.
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