The Portfolio Committee on Tourism convened in a virtual meeting to engage with the Ministerial Advisory Panel for Policy Review, consider the draft Committee programme for the third term of 2021, and to consider outstanding draft minutes. The Committee was advised that the election of the new Chairperson would be held on Tuesday next week.
The Ministerial Panel reported that it had noted a number of observations during the policy review process, including that the policy areas addressed in the 1996 White Paper largely remained relevant. Some areas still required major interventions in the current context, although progress had been made in others. Tourism safety and security was an example of an area still requiring major intervention, and the Covid-19 pandemic had led to health considerations becoming an integral part of the safety and security policy area. New policy areas, such as economic digital transformation and seamless travel, required reflection alongside cross-cutting areas such as visa-related considerations.
Regarding the emerging issues, the Panel said that its proposed interventions ranged from administrative interventions and institutional arrangements, to regulatory interventions. Regulatory interventions were proposed on the sharing economy, compulsory grading, a review of the procurement framework, and a proposal on reviewing the Tourism Marketing South Africa (TOMSA) levy, its collection and possible extension to online companies. There was interest by some stakeholders in establishing or reviewing tourism institutional arrangements. A tourism risk committee for crisis management and a tourism specific sector education and training authority (SETA) for skills development were amongst the proposed structures for establishment. A review of the definition of tourism and its sub-sectors, and a revised definition in respect of tourist guiding, was suggested.
The Committee welcomed the report from the Panel, although it had some concerns. A Member said she did not see any funding by the various levels of government being addressed in the Panel’s presentation, and this was a concern, especially at the local government level. The intergovernmental relations process was quite disjointed, and there needed to be a better synergy between the three levels of government, especially when it came to policy and implementation of programmes. Another Member wanted to know what the tourism sector in South Africa was doing to significantly reduce the cost of traveling to South Africa, or traveling within the country, and made an example of how the cost of travelling, including accommodation and activities, in Thailand was very low. The Committee also raised the issue of developing tourism destinations in the villages, townships and small towns, stating that there needed to be newly developed tourism structures in these areas, as well as funding of people from the villages, townships and small towns so that they could feel empowered enough to be innovative and create more tourist attractions themselves.
Election of new Committee Chairperson
Mr Jerry Boltina, the Committee Secretary, said that the governing party had made some changes in the membership of some committees. As a result, the Chairperson of this Committee (Mr S Mahumapelo) had now been appointed to the Portfolio Committee on International Relations, and Ms T Mahambehlala was the Chairperson designated to the Portfolio Committee on Tourism.
Subsequent to that, the Committee Secretariat had communicated with the Chairperson-elect and reached an agreement that the meeting to elect the Chairperson formally would take place on Tuesday next week. The Office of the House Chairperson would be informed of this as well. If there was a delay in the election of the Chairperson, in terms of rule 160, they would have to advise the House Chair and seek permission for that. He had hoped that the outgoing Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism, Mr S Mahumapelo (ANC), would attend the virtual meeting briefly, just to bid farewell to the Committee, but it was not possible due to a clash in the timing of meetings.
He handed over to the Acting Chairperson, Ms Gomba, to lead the meeting.
The Chairperson welcomed the Ministerial Tourism Policy Review Panel to the meeting, and invited them to proceed with their presentation.
Ministerial Panel for Tourism Policy Review
Mr Bongani Ngqulunga, Chairperson of the Panel, said that the purpose of the presentation was to brief the Committee on the policy review process that had been undertaken, the progress and preliminary reflections on the review process, as well as the policy gaps and recommended policy considerations. The presentation also detailed the background, the policies tools guiding tourism, the approach of the panel, as well as its observations, thematic areas, emerging issues and the progress made thus far.
Referring to the background, he said that the Department of Tourism had initiated a process to update the overarching policy framework guiding tourism in the country, which was the White Paper on Tourism Development and Promotion in South Africa,1996. The Minister had appointed a seven- member advisory panel to lead the review process, and it had commenced its work in November 2020, undertaking various activities towards developing the reviewed draft policy.
Regarding the policy tools guiding tourism, he said that the current policy framework for tourism was outlined in the following instruments:
The White Paper on Tourism Development and Promotion in South Africa (1996);
The National Tourism Sector Strategy (2011, 2017);
Supporting strategies such as the Tourism Sector Human Resources Development Strategy (2017);
The Tourism Act, 3 of 2014 (also the Tourism Amendment Bill, 2019);
The Tourism Sector Recovery Plan (2021);
The National Development Plan (2013); and
The Economic Reconstruction & Recovery Plan (2020).
He said that jointly, the instruments provide an overarching policy direction supported by implementation mechanisms to give effect to the policy.
The Panel had made the following observations:
The policy areas addressed in the 1996 White Paper largely remain relevant;
Some areas still require major interventions in the current context, although progress had been made in others;
Tourism safety and security was an example of an area still requiring major intervention;
The Covid-19 pandemic had led to health considerations becoming an integral part of the safety and security policy area;
New policy areas, such as economic digital transformation and seamless travel, required reflection alongside cross-cutting areas such as visa-related considerations;
Areas not specifically addressed by the White Paper, such as rural tourism, had also been identified.
Ms Sibongumusa Ngidi, Head of Secretariat: Ministerial Panel for Tourism Policy Review (MPTPR), detailed the thematic areas that had been identified by the panel as focus areas for the review, as well as the emerging issues from the initial consultations and the progress made and the next steps to be taken.
Among the emerging issues, she noted the following:
Proposed interventions range from administrative interventions, institutional arrangements to regulatory interventions;
Regulatory interventions were proposed on the sharing economy, compulsory grading, reviewing of the procurement framework, and a proposal on reviewing the Tourism Marketing South Africa (TOMSA) levy, its collection and possible extension to online companies;
Interest by some stakeholders to establish or review tourism institutional arrangements;
A tourism risk committee for crisis management, and a tourism-specific sector education and training authority (SETA) for skills development were amongst the proposed structures for establishment;
A review of the definition of tourism and its sub-sectors, and a revised definition in respect of tourist guiding was suggested.
Regarding the progress and next steps, she noted the following:
A review of initial stakeholder inputs by the Advisory Panel had been finalised;
A comprehensive drafting and redrafting process had been undertaken by the Panel, outlining preliminary proposals;
The Panel would present the current preliminary proposals to the Minister at the earliest opportunity;
Once the Minister considered the current draft, it would be further refined;
Further consultations would be held with the initial set of stakeholders and a wide range of tourism players throughout all the provinces;
All inputs would be processed and a further draft developed;
Formal administrative processes, including consultation with the government cluster, would thereafter be facilitated.
Ms H Winkler (DA) said she did not see any addressing of funding by the various levels of government, and this was a concern, especially at a local government level. There was always a concern that tourism was essentially an unfunded mandate, even though it was a huge sector for job creation and needed to be supported at the local government level. Regarding intergovernmental relations, she said that the process was quite disjointed, and there needed to be better synergy between the three levels of government, especially when it came to policy and the implementation in programmes.
She wanted to know what the proposals and concerns were in respect of transformation and changing the tourism landscape in the villages, townships and small towns, the policy proposals around this, and how this was going to be addressed during the review. She also asked what stakeholders had been doing regarding climate change, and how it would be included in the policy review. Regarding cross-cutting issues, she wanted to know what would be done about environmental degradation, as the country was navigating its way out of COVID-19 and there was going to be a huge demand for ecotourism, as the country’s offering was based on its natural heritage. “We need to make sure that we are preserving and conserving our natural spaces”, she said.
Mr H April (ANC) said that tourism was one of those areas that had been hard hit, and every effort that was being made by the administration to revitalise tourism, particularly in the small towns, was inspiring to see.
Mr H Gumbi (DA) wanted to know what the tourism sector in South Africa was doing to significantly reduce the cost of traveling to South Africa or traveling within South Africa, and made an example of how the cost of traveling, including accommodation and activities, in Thailand was very low. He wanted to know if there were any policy interventions addressing that, and how they planned to help with a reduction in the cost of travel. He asked whether there was anything directly speaking to free grading in the policy review, and whether community tourism organisations (CTOs) had been left out of the policy review process.
Mr P Moteka (EFF) said that there were two key issues that needed to be addressed in the policy review process. The first one was the issue of developing tourism destinations in the villages, townships and small towns, as there needed to be newly developed tourism structures in these areas. The second issue was funding people from the villages, townships, and small towns so that they could feel empowered enough to be innovative and create more tourist attractions themselves.
The Chairperson said that according to her understanding, there was a difference between policy review and policy design, and wanted to know the number of new policies that had been designed in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 financial years. How long did it take the Department to design a policy, and how long thereafter to review it, as tourism changes from time to time and requires the Department to review policies to see if they are still relevant? She also wanted to know whether the policies were aligned to funding those who came from previously disadvantaged communities so that going forward, those organisations that had been against the empowerment of the previously disadvantaged communities could see that the policy was aligned to that effect. Lastly, in terms of intergovernmental policies, she wanted to know whether there was any stage where all the government departments with overlapping policies -- for example, the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture and the Department of Tourism --could engage together to ensure their policies did not overlap and contradict each other.
Adv Mojankunyane Gumbi said that she was happy that the Committee was able to recognise that the intergovernmental process was disjointed. In its consultations, the Panel had also found that different departments and levels of government went to the external markets in a very disjointed manner. As a result of this, it became impossible to leverage on the offerings that the country has. This was going to be addressed directly in the policy to ensure that it was understood that South Africa was a unitary country with certain functions that were shared by different levels of the state, in terms of the constitution. What had worked well for Thailand was that they approached tourism with the assistance of the whole country, which was what the Department was trying to get SA Tourism to do.
Ms Mmatsatsi Ramawela said that their discussions had led them to the decision that the existing policies, including black economic empowerment (BEE), needed to be strengthened to ensure that there were substantive differences made. When the Panel engaged with the Tourism Transformation Council, the input about funding was also discussed. They were also addressing the issues around local government to the extent that local government structures were ready to service the needs of tourism, trade and travel.
Mr Michael Tollman said that issues relating to climate change and environmental degradation had been covered by the Panel before it looked at the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and addressed these developments. The 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) had been included in the discussions and reviews, also considering that some of these items were covered both in the Panel’s report and within the different departments. For example, policies around climate change and sustainable travel were specific to the tourism sector and could be addressed by policies within the sector itself, but some were very much reliant upon other departments, and those were covered in the report.
Prof Dianne Abrahams said that a number of the issues raised by Members of the Committee had been addressed clearly in the Panel’s report, and that the issue of capacity and upskilling of people at different levels dealing with tourism had also emerged in consultations. Affordability and access were also being addressed in the policy.
Ms Ngidi said that the funding of CTOs was done through sub-national government, as different provinces had mechanisms by which they fund the CTOs. It differed from province to province, but it was currently provided for. The issue of free grading was complex because now grading was almost free, if not entirely free to the smaller enterprises. There was a programme that had been running for some time, where the Department subsidised grading in respect of smaller and medium enterprises. However, when something was free to one party, the money came from somewhere, meaning that it did have long-term implications in terms of funding. She said that policy was designed on a year-to-year basis, and that policy was looked at as an ecosystem. There was the policy itself, and then the strategies. Policy was not as agile as the strategies, in that one could not update policy too often, partly because the process was long, as by law it must be consultative. The policy itself did not get reviewed regularly, but the ecosystem itself and the strategies were updated regularly, based on changes in the environment and stakeholder inputs.
Mr Ngqulunga said that they had taken their time on the policy and review process, partly because they thought they needed to consult extensively because the White Paper that was currently in place had been there for more than two decades. The Panel was also aware that the policy that would be developed out of this process may be there for a long time, so it had to think carefully and understand all the issues that were facing the sector, and needed to be aware that it was contributing towards a policy development process. He said that COVID-19 had created some problems in the sector, especially with the restrictions on movement, but the Panel made a commitment to the stakeholders and said it would go back and consult further on the proposals that came up. The second phase of consultation that the Panel wanted to undergo would not just be a listening process, as the Panel would be going with a set of proposals to ensure that they covered all the issues that had been raised. They wanted to reach out to as many sectors as possible during the consultation process so that whatever they proposed to the Minister would have taken all the views of stakeholders into consideration.
The Chairperson thanked the Ministerial Panel for their presentation, commenting that it had been informative and that there was a lot that the Committee learnt from it.
Draft Committee Programme for Third Term
Ms S Makhubela-Mashele (ANC) moved the approval of the draft committee programme, subject to changes, and was seconded by Ms Winkler.
The programme was adopted
Consideration of draft minutes
The minutes of 1 June, 17 August and 24 August 2021 were considered and adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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