In a virtual meeting, the Committee met to consider its draft programme for the first term of 2021. Members felt strongly that the programme must accommodate oversight visits especially in key areas negatively impacted, or hard hit, by the pandemic and lockdown regulations – it would also be an opportunity for the Committee to hear these grievances directly. There were also suggestions that the Committee hold meetings to discuss the tourism relief funds. Further recommendations suggested adding engagements on the tourism equity fund and community tourism organisations.
First term Committee programme
The Committee Secretary took Members through the programme for the first term of 2021. He said the House Chairperson advised Committees to, in 2021, focus on Bills they were sitting with to ensure they are finalised. Key items in the first term were the State of the Nation Address (SONA) and the budget speech. The programme has been revised due to slight changes that included the training - it was suggested certain Committee meetings be rescheduled to accommodate this.
There would be a focus on entities which played a critical role in the Department of Tourism – the Committee would be prioritsing meeting with these roleplayers.
Parliament has organised a pension fund meeting in that meeting they will be discussing and explaining the pension fund for MPs. This will then affect some items on the Committee programme.
The Committee is also interested in inviting the Tourism Business Council to update the Committee on the status quo of the sector.
The Chairperson recommended an oversight visit be included as part of the programme.
Mr K Sithole (IFP) [inaudible]
Ms H Winkler (DA) suggested that the Committee identify key areas where tourism has been negatively affected due to the pandemic and conduct oversight visit in those areas. Coastal areas in KZN have been hit hard. She suggested the Committee also have a meeting to discuss tourism relief funding.
Mr T Khalipha (ANC) concurred with the input of other Members and emphasised the importance of showing support in the sector during this difficult time.
Mr H Gumbi (DA) said that it is a shortcoming if there is no component of oversight in the programme as oversight is important during these times. He suggested engagements with stakeholders in the industry who were hard hit by the lockdown regulations especially as there is no platform for these businesses to really pour out their grievances. It should be a priority on the agenda for the first term.
Ms M Gomba (ANC) suggested Limpopo as an area in which to do oversight work.
Ms P Mpushe (ANC) supported the proposed programme and also supported the suggestion on oversight visits.
Ms L Makhubela-Mashele (ANC) highlighted her eagerness to hear from the Department to explain the Tourism Equity Fund so that in their constituencies, Members can encourage their constituents to use the resources that government is providing. She supported the programme and believed that it will assist with increasing the oversight duties and responsibilities of the Committee.
The Chairperson summarised the suggestions made by the Committee and said these would be added to the draft programme. He also said that when conducting oversight, Members will be split up and joined by provincial members. He also asked for meetings with funders, both public and private, to ascertain their contribution to the industry. In the areas where the Committee intended to conduct oversight, it will need a report on the risk of COVID19.
Ms Winkler suggested there should be a meeting with community tourism organisations because they would benefit from support and guidance.
The Committee Content Advisor said that issues that Members have raised are issues that will be addressed during the oversight visits. For example when the Committee planned to visit Limpopo, there were already arrangements to meet with local tourism businesses and see how they function and what their struggles are. He reassured Members that their concerns will be integrated into the oversight programme and Members will be able to interact with all stakeholders.
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