In a virtual meeting, the Portfolio Committee heard a presentation by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) which described the desperate need for the tourism sector to recover from the impact of COVID-19 and its regulations which hamper its ability to contribute towards the economy. The meeting discussed the state of affairs in the tourism sector and how certain factors are disturbing the industry from reaching its full potential. South Africa’s tourism has declined significantly because of COVID-19 regulations and the inefficiency of certain departments.
Each of these points were discussed in detail by TBCSA representatives:
• PCR testing requirements must be scrapped
• National Public Transport Regulator solution must be found and implemented urgently
• Air licensing backlog must be attended to urgently
• Meetings, Conferences and Exhibitions allowed to operate at a higher capacity per venue
• Spectators must be allowed at stadiums to support tourism recovery.
PCR testing requirements set by the Department of Health act as a deterrent for international travelers to come to South Africa due to cost implications and the uncertainty of having to wait until the last minute to know if one may travel to South Africa. It was proposed in the meeting that the PCR test apply only to non-vaccinated international travelers and those who are vaccinated can travel freely. When tourists look at all the documents required to enter South Africa, they go to other African countries putting the tourism sector at a disadvantage compared to its competitors. Most countries have removed PCR testing but South Africa still has not, putting itself behind the pack.
Sports tourism restrictions need also to be lifted. This ensures stadiums are operating and generating much-needed revenue for travel and hospitality.
Mr Blacky Komani, TBCSA Board Chairperson, introduced his TBCSA team: Mr Tshifhiwa Tshivengwa, TBCSA CEO, Mr Aaron Munetsi, CEO at ASSA, Mr Septi Bukula, Founder and President at SEEZA, Ms Lindelwa Isabelle, Director Sales and Revenue at Tsogo Sun, Mr George Mothema, CEO at BARSA, and Ms Hannelie Du Toit, Chief Operating Officer at SATSA.
Mr Blacky Komani described the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, established in 1996, as the leading voice in the tourism industry representing the private sector.
Covid-19 decimated the economy of South Africa resulting in three million job losses in 2020. Small, medium and large tourism businesses have been heavily affected, and informal tourism businesses severely impacted. Due to the rising cost of living and job losses, South African consumers are under immense pressure. Global conflict has had an impact on travel and tourism through rising fuel costs. There is less confidence in global travel, health protocols and safety.
Overall, the sector is operating at between 30-40% capacity in comparison to 2019. Domestic travel is leading the sector recovery as leisure tourism increased in December 2021, corporate and government travel was beginning to increase in February 2022, and events and conferencing need to be boosted. The tourism sector lost 470 000 jobs due to COVID-19 with only 37% of employees receiving 100% of their salaries in February 2022. International arrivals are showing a slow increase from a low base.
Key to Recovery
• Vaccination of the entire tourism sector is key to building confidence.
• Dealing with uncertainty regarding arrivals protocols.
• Harmonization of travel protocols in SA and SADC region.
• Creation of African specialists in source markets to work closely with source markets trade partners.
• Understanding consumers' concerns and desires under COVID-19.
Challenges and Critical Success Factors to Recovery
• PCR testing requirements
• Aviation challenges
• Inbound challenges (National Public Transport Regulator (NPTR) and Regulation)
• Domestic – Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) and sports tourism restrictions
• Transformation within the sector
• PCR testing requirements must be scrapped
• NPTR solution must be found and implemented urgently
• Portfolio Committee of Transport may be able to assist
• Air licensing backlog must be attended to urgently
• MICE industry must be allowed to operate at a higher floor capacity per venue
• Spectators must be allowed at stadiums to support tourism recovery.
The Chairperson thanked the presenters and said that TBCSA relies on the Committee to create an environment that is conducive for its businesses to flourish and operate. Tourism, in its nature is a sector that is dependent on other sectors. Where there are bottlenecks in other sectors it will not be able to grow no matter the size of the business. TBCSA makes a constant appearance before the Portfolio Committee and it wants to establish a relationship with Members of Parliament so it can inform them where these bottlenecks and red tape are located. The Committee knows that there are systems and regulations implemented by another sector that have unintended consequences on tourism. She used the example of the travel restrictions imposed by the Department of Home Affairs when the unabridged birth certificate for children was introduced. The PCR test regulations also have unintended consequences on tourism. It is the Committee’s responsibility to listen and make well-informed decisions.
Ms H Winkler (DA) asked if there were airlines and routes that still need to be re-instated post-lockdown restrictions. She noted Mr Mothema’s remarks on Air Mauritius being interested in returning to South Africa and the direct flight from Durban to Zanzibar offered by Mango that is no longer available. She asked TBCSA to explain the impact of tourism not penetrating specific areas due to these direct routes no longer being available. There have been complaints about this.
Ms Winkler moved on to the state of the country’s airports. She understands that this is not in the purview of tourism itself, but the first impression that international travelers get when they enter a South African airport is that many of the facilities have become run down. Bathroom maintenance, for one, along with several other maintenance issues have fallen by the wayside. This has been identified by the Council and other stakeholders as a concern. She has received complaints from international travelers about this.
Ms Winkler moved on to the breakdown of communication between Tourism and the Department of Transport on the dilemma with operating licences. The Private Charter Passenger Association, had brought to the Council’s attention that the private tour operators had concerns with their licensing. These operators were sometimes expected to pay hundreds of thousands in licencing fees for their buses, which they could not operate during lockdown. This caused a severe financial strain on those businesses. Many were forced to shut down, leading to the retrenchment of employees. Has there been a resolution? The Director-General of Transport said those licences would be extended to ensure these operators would not have to pay an additional annual fee. This could be another case of a breakdown in communication with Transport, similar to the operating licences.
Ms Winkler spoke to the resilience of the sector. Some TBCSA members have stated that they are trying to become more economically resilient in the sector. She asked what discussions, if any, have there been on the impact of climate change on the sector going forward. South Africa is projected to have a projected four degree increase in temperature. We will see extremely hot temperatures in the interior as well as rising sea levels around the coastal communities. She asked if there is any sense of urgency to address tourism's purported loss in millions if the impending climate change is not prepared for.
Ms M Gomba (ANC) appreciated the comprehensive and clear presentation. She asked if TBCSA contacted the Department of Health about the challenges with PCR testing and the long hours travelling with a mask on. She did not think the Department of Health (DoH) will condone this on a 12-hour international flight. How will TBCSA deal with this between DoH and aviation?
Ms Gomba said it is important to receive updates from Home Affairs on the eVisa. Is it already functional and in place and is it really assisting or not?
She asked about the routes which are still not open for international travel and if this is a challenge. She asked if there is a way the Committee can assist or influence the redesign of international routes such as the lack of direct international flights when leaving a South African airport. Those long routes are really discouraging tourists. One really needs to look at the routes so travel to and from South Africa is made simple and easy and smarter.
She asked if the PCR test also applies to South Africa's neighboring countries.
Ms P Mpushe (ANC) appreciate the informative and comprehensive presentation. Improvements in the sector are welcomed; they show signs of hope. She noted the need for the Committee's intervention such as the lifting of the PCR test for fully vaccinated travelers. She asked if transformation fund contribution is indeed contributing towards what it was meant for.
Mr M De Freitas (DA) apologised for keeping his camera off due to unstable signal. He thanked the presenters for their frankness. He is not sure if the Minister is still on, but he would be interested to hear from her about what she is doing to resolve these concerns. He knows very well the licensing permit challenge dates back many years. Ironically, we talk about transformation but it is those that we want to transform that are suffering the most because these permits are not being issued. It is shocking, and he would like to hear from the Minister what she is doing to talk to the Transport Ministry to speed this up. Mr De Freitas has written to various Transport officials because the public have approached him about this. It is completely frustrating and the NPTR do not have a clue about what tourism is about, let alone what transport is about, and why it is required. It is a dire situation. The presenters were frank but diplomatic about a dire situation. People are losing their jobs because of the inefficiency of the Transport Department. He asked what the Minister is doing in talking to her counterpart to solve this so tourism can really be expanded.
His second point was to ask the Minister if she is speaking to her Health counterpart about PCR tests. This is an easy win for us. Our neighbouring countries have got rid of this requirement and basically so has the whole world. As usual, South Africa is behind and we are giving our tourism away to our competitors such as Kenya and even Rwanda now who are our direct competitors. When tourists from our big markets look and see how expensive it is to come to South Africa, they will go elsewhere. He asked if the Minister is speaking to her counterparts, and if not, then it needs to be done. We are losing millions in revenue along with jobs.
Ms S Maneli (ANC) asked if some of the assistance provided extended to informal businesses and if some of them were able to recover. In cases where they did not recover, what measures were in place to ensure that they are resuscitated?
She asked about the TBCSA subscription requirement for its members despite being highly impacted by COVID-19. She agreed to the TBCSA request for the Committee to intervene and interact with other stakeholders to ensure the tourism sector recovers smoothly.
Mr E Myeni (ANC) said that his questions had been covered.
Ms S Xego (ANC) apologized for her camera being off due to bad weather. TBCSA has identified these challenges and is bringing them to the Committee to ask for assistance. As a Committee, these challenges must be noted. The Committee is not responsible for addressing challenges but to identify who is doing what and refer the challenge to the relevant authorities. The presentation is a reminder of the impact of COVID-19 and the effects of government decisions to curb the spread of COVID-19. South Africa and the Committee want the sector to fully recover. Yet in the same vein, it does not want to make the country vulnerable again. The challenges will be raised by the Committee. The challenge of PCR testing requirements must be lifted to the level of the Minister so she can take this to the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) because it is a matter of national importance. If the NCCC is longer active, it should be taken to Cabinet. The Committee will continue to follow up and identify other partners to address that challenge as well.
The Committee must engage the transport and aviation authorities. What is wished for are safer skies. With the inbound challenge, the Committee has started doing its homework on the red tape. In last week’s Committee meeting, it engaged the authorities in that space. It seems to be a cross cutting issue. The Committee has started on this and would like to continue.
For the Committee, it will not be a once-off to address these challenges raised by TBCSA. It has been doing it and will continue to try and level the ground for tourism to contribute to the economic growth of the country. It must continue to do its homework. Now that there has been a court judgment on the implementation of the BEE policy, it has brought uncertainty. She asked if the Council was saying that the previously disadvantaged are being disadvantaged by this judgement now. She asked how the Council views the judgment.
The Chairperson said that the Committee remains committed to unearth and ease the red tape in the tourism sector. However, it relies on its counterparts in other Portfolio Committees, who need to be lobbied to ease restrictions and ensure the environment is conducive for tourism to flourish. It is not easy and will take time. The PCR test will not be dropped tomorrow as there is something that informs the PCR test requirement. The Committee needs to understand this from a health perspective before it makes a pronouncement on dropping the PCR test. It understands that the sector is saying it is an inhibitor or red tape which will deter tourists, making them go to other destinations where the PCR test is not required. However, there are health protocols put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. We are guided by these protocols and will continue to be guided. The Chairperson cautioned the Committee that TBCSA requested to brief the Committee and on the status of the tourism sector. It came because it needed to engage the collective of the Portfolio Committee of Parliament. It did not go to the Minister of Tourism. TBCSA understands that the Committee has distinct responsibilities as Members of Parliament, its responsibility is to perform oversight on the Department.
The Chairperson cautioned Members from wanting the Minister to respond to concerns brought to the attention of the Committee. They know the systems in place to engage with the Department and the Minister. It welcomes these interactions with TBCSA because it came to lobby the Committee and if it strongly believes it needs to go its colleagues in the transport and health sectors it will do so. The Committee believes that there is a case put forth and they understand and do want the tourism sector to fully recover for the benefit of the country. It will create much-needed job opportunities and allow vulnerable workers who have been retrenched to return to their workspaces. It will enable families to put bread back on the table. It will enable businesses that have shutdown or are barely breaking even, to recover.
The Chairperson said that those are her comments about the responsibility of the Committee and its interaction with TBCSA and how to bring the Minister on board about this interaction. It will put forth its recommendations and put together the points it wants to get across to the Minister about its understanding of the NCCC rationale for the PCR test. The Chairperson said that they cannot make any promises further than that. They will be guided by the health sector experts. Ms Xego correctly stated that the Committee does not want to open the country and make it vulnerable. South Africa is still recovering from the devastation of the pandemic, and it does not want to return to that whilst on the road to recovery. It does not want to risk losing as many lives as we have lost through this virus.
Mr Komani replied that there is one question they ask to be given a chance to consult their board in a strategy session tomorrow on their view on the recent Constitutional Court judgment on procurement, which they have started but not yet deliberated at a board level.
Mr Komani said that the Chairperson’s response and initial comments about the unintended consequences on some of the regulations are spot on. Therefore, they appreciated coming to the Committee to share their concerns. The Chairperson can connect the dots that the regulations have failed and harm the sector. She is right about PCR testing as they cannot trade off the health of the people for commercial reasons. Therefore, they were the first sector to come up with travel protocols to ensure that this sector does not contribute to the spread of the virus. TBCSA has always maintained that it wants to ensure it helps curb the spread of the virus, although it wants this sector to grow. Mr Komani was proud to report that those protocols have become the norms and standards adopted by the Health Department and Cabinet.
Mr George Mothema, CEO: Board of Airline Representatives, replied about the significant air routes that need to be reinstated and the markets reopened. The rights to new international routes or flight frequencies are decided by the International Air Services Licensing Council appointed by the Department of Transport. The absence of functioning councils for almost a year has held back South Africa's airlines. This led to an air licensing backlog and impacts decisions that need to be made by airlines. From an international perspective Johannesburg is the primary hub into South Africa followed by Cape Town. Delta is working with the Department to get a direct flight from the US to Cape Town. Some of the key markets are due to reopen. If we look at Mango and the pandemic’s impact on South African and international airlines, some went into business rescue, liquidation and the decision is made by individual airlines. The restructuring of Mango still needs to be finalized for them to continue operating the Durban route. Air Mauritius has been back in South Africa since 9 January 2021. TBCSA have had discussions with the Chairperson of Air Mauritius as part of their broader objectives to maintain and ensure that South Africa becomes and continues to be an attractive destination for airlines.
On the state of airports, airport maintenance is a difficult issue because it is an Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) matter. At an operational level they have also received complaints especially about OR Tambo. They are aware of the huge losses suffered by ACSA, which is trying to re-strategize to return to profitability. They do raise this with the relevant general managers of the different airports. This is to ensure some of the basic items from a maintenance perspective are maintained. Passengers complain about such and our airports could end up being dilapidated. This will impact the decisions made by travelers about whether to enter this environment. Airports are the point of entry into an environment and are the first things that attract people. It is a concern they will continue to raise with ACSA.
There are direct flights to London. There are many complaints on the Emirates strategy of flying to Dubai. That strategy is intended to bring more tourists into the country. These matters BARSA does not get involved in as the airlines decide on their markets and about individual flights. Virgin Atlantic flies directly from Johannesburg to London. The announcement has been made that South African Airlines (SAA) will now be a private entity as they continue to restructure their business with SAA’s focus is on the African market. Mr Mothema explained he has answered this question at a general level because as an association, BARSA is limited to what they can discuss. Part of the association’s responsibility is not to get involved in markets and pricing. This would get the association into trouble.
BARSA's job is to continue to get airlines into South Africa without unnecessarily dictating to them which parts of the market they need to access. Its responsibility is to raise the broader issues which impact crucial decisions to facilitate the ease of travel for passengers and consumers. It is frustrating to go to Dubai all the time. They raise the issue of the frequency of PCR testing at a broader level. Some of the concerns raised by members have an impact on some of the key decisions that must be made around continued travel in South Africa. They are still in a space of recovery and many airlines are making decisions on the level of profitability. Airlines can withstand the loss of income from a specific route for a certain period. The numbers are growing. As indicated earlier, the domestic market is fully available as opposed to the international market. However, more international travelers are coming back into the country which enables their members to continue to maintain South Africa as a desired destination.
Ms Winkler in the chat box asked: Are there significant routes that are still not operational?
Mr Mothema replied there are not really any flights not operating on significant routes. About 80% of the 31 member airlines are back in the country. This tells us that they are left with a few airlines which need to decide to come back into the country. In terms of increasing markets, the air licencing backlog caused by the delay in finalizing appointing the Air Services Licensing Council by the Department of Transport has prevented local airlines acquiring new international routes or flight frequencies and this impacts those markets.
Mr Aaron Munetsi, CEO at Airlines Association of Southern Africa (ASSA), added that there are two important factors. Firstly, South Africa was one of the first 18 countries that signed up to the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) in January 2018. Being a signatory, South African airlines can operate to any destination in Africa, without frequency and capacity limitations. This gives an opportunity for other African airlines to operate into and out of South Africa without frequency and capacity limitations. One of their airlines, Airlink, used to operate between Johannesburg and Antananarivo in Madagascar and Mozambique. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, it could not operate. Madagascan authorities recently announced they have opened their borders. Every other country may fly to and from Madagascar but it banned South Africa without explanation. This raised the question why South Africa was being discriminated against. This is significant for them because there is a large amount of cargo and passenger traffic. South African manufacturers supply a lot of goods and supplies to Madagascar. They want to know why that route is not open to South Africa and if there is a specific reason behind it, and this should be addressed.
The American airline, Delta Airlines, is looking to fly into Cape Town which is significant. However, there is a challenge that Delta Airlines want to operate but were told by South African authorities that they cannot fly the triangular route between Atlanta, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Until this is resolved, there will be a constriction of traffic. The USA and North America are insignificant traffic into South Africa but it does add to South Africa's tourism numbers.
The Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) is significant as it is open to African airlines and is owned by Africans. Airlines are governed by traffic rights, which are given according to global traffic agreement. For example, Turkish Airlines cannot operate from Johannesburg directly to the USA or London because of the traffic rights agreement between South Africa and Turkey. There is an intricate relationship between traffic agreements signed by countries and traffic operations of where an airline can operate. If an airline cannot operate on a direct flight, it is due to the bilateral service agreements between countries that allow airlines to operate in and out.
Mr Munetsi replied about the state of the airports. Airports are a significant component of the tourism and trade relationship as the gateway into and out of a country. ACSA is constrained due to lockdown amongst many other issues. The numbers ACSA presented in February 2022 show that most airports, especially OR Tambo, are operating at 40-50% capacity. If ACSA is to maintain an airport as big as OR Tambo, the cost implications can become limiting for maintenance programmes. Perhaps ACSA needs to look for public partnerships where the infrastructure can be shared with other interested parties to the benefit of travelers to and from South Africa.
Ms Hannelie Du Toit, Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) CEO, replied about the NPTR. An exemption extension was provided which ends on 31 March 2022. Despite this permit extension, the Traffic Department is very active and still stops and asks operators for their permits and continues to impound vehicles. There as an active, good Traffic Department checking for operating licences but the Department of Transport refuses to issue them.
Mr Septi Bukula, Seeza Tourism SME Network President, replied about climate change resilience. Although it is not his area of expertise, it has become an area of interest. The global developments from a tourism perspective are noted with interest. The private sector in the form of the World Travel and Tourism Council issued Driving Climate Action: A Net Zero Roadmap for Travel & Tourism. Another party involved is the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). This is something of interest because climate change is critical. Other developments are the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC) with its proposal on the establishment of a resilience fund. These developments are being watched with interest and TBCSA as a private sector council will engage on this. The GTRCMC initiative is a crucial task involving universities in generating scholarship and research on resilience and crisis management in tourism. Kenya is engaged in this and Botswana. This is an opportunity for South African universities to be part of that global initiative.
Mr Komani thanked Mr Bukula and asked to him to respond about informal business and SMME assistance.
Mr Bukula replied that there was already the R200 million Tourism Relief Fund This was helpful but a drop in the ocean given the significant impact of COVID-19. They appreciate that there were competing priorities for resources. Qualifying SMMEs received R50 000 each. There were major challenges with red tape and document requirements, but the relief was welcomed. There is no evidence on how big of a difference this made and the impact on those SMMEs that were not assisted. Hence the point made earlier that everything done should be based on solid evidence-based research to make well informed decisions.
Ms Winkler in the chat box: Has the Green Tourism Incentive Fund been successful - or does it need to be significantly ramped up?
On TBCSA contacting DoH, Mr Komani replied that it has a great relationship with the Department of Health at the operational level right up to the Minister of Health, Dr Joseph Phaahla. It has had a conversation with a Health official about the PCR test and gave him a two pager which he appreciated. To answer the question, it works with DoH daily, and they are very cooperative.
Mr Tshifhiwa Tshivengwa, TBCSA CEO, replied about the delay in the eVisas, saying the eVisa is a longstanding project. It has been piloted in some countries. They were in contact with the Department of Home Affairs two weeks ago and it is doing its strategic planning to figure out which countries to prioritize over and above those  countries the eVisa is available to. The eVisa system needs to be world class to issue visas with speed for visitors to receive their visas on time. The eVisa is there but they need to ensure it is world class and responds properly to traveler needs.
PCR testing is clearly affecting the South African market. What TBCSA wants is for vaccinated travelers without symptoms to be allowed to travel to South Africa without a negative PCR test. The Department of Health has been engaged directly through various structures to demonstrate that there is no scientist that can say what it is asking for is out of the ordinary. It is known that if a person has symptoms, they do not need to be tested. South Africans are already living with COVID-19. What is important here is how the markets can be opened with COVID-19 but ensuring tourism recovers faster.
The impact of the PCR test is great in the region because even when travelling from South Africa to Zimbabwe, a PCR test is needed. The entire integration of the Southern region is important so that when people travel to places like Zambia they can travel freely. Those that are fully vaccinated and show no symptoms should be allowed to travel without a negative PCR test and those are not vaccinated will have to produce a negative PCR test. The PCR test deters 37% of international travelers due to its cost implications. People do not know if they will be accepted into the country until the last minute, bringing about uncertainty. South Africans traveling internationally who are fully vaccinated and have no symptoms, are still required to do a PCR test when returning to South Africa. Scrapping the PCR test will encourage more people to get vaccinated in the country. Seychelles along with many countries are removing the PCR testing and South Africa will get left behind. This will reflect on our recovery process. A decision needs to be made for the country’s economy and tourism. Any funds put into marketing will be for nothing.
Mr Komani thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity to share some of the matters that have effect on the sector. Tourism remains a catalyst for the creation of jobs and TBCSA believes it can contribute to the country’s economy. It is happy to be partners and part of the solution.
The Chairperson thanked TBCSA as the Committee’s partner. The cordial relationship and engagement is appreciated. It is important for the conduct of oversight, to listen to outside voices sometimes. This ensures that the Committee can engage with its colleagues and counterparts. TBCSA stated their hindrances as role players in the tourism sector. It has listed the challenges it faces while trying to fully recover the tourism sector. It gives the Committee the information that it needs to bring everybody on board. For South Africa to recover, everyone needs to play their part. The private sector and government need to play its part, and the Committee as legislators need to ensure that the legislation in place does not have unintended consequences on another sector.
The Committee can mitigate and inform its partners on what is hampering the growth of the tourism sector. The Committee appreciated this engagement. It is evident that the PCR test does have unintended consequences. South Africa’s own citizens are subject to PCR tests on return to the country despite being fully vaccinated. It appreciates that TBCSA negotiated for the drastic reduction in the pricing of the test. The red tape, however, has unintended consequences because the traveler trying to enter the country does not want to be overwhelmed by this paperwork and will look for an easier destination. We are in competition with other African countries for the wildlife experience and for the coastline and travelers may decide to visit these countries instead. The Committee heard what TBCSA had to say about the aviation space and the operating licences. It will start engaging with its colleagues who can assist the sector in its recovery process.
Committee hybrid programme
The Chairperson noted the 22 March 2022 meeting in Cape Town will not be virtual and will be a full sitting as proposed by the Committee itself.
The Committee Secretary, Mr Jerry Boltina, outlined the hybrid programme. He said the Committee had expressed the need to have a physical strategy planning session. The House Chairperson will need to sign off on that application for the strategy meeting to be held not too far from Parliament. This will make it easier for members to access Parliament once the strategy meeting was done. The progress on this is in hand.
Mr Boltina moved to 29 March 2022. The Committee was advised that the National Assembly has further populated the week of 29 March 2022 until 31 March 2022 with activities. The motion of a vote of confidence in President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Cabinet. There will be a multi-party women's caucus and questions for the President. This has implications for the Committee oversight visit to Limpopo as it would be confined to a single day which means it would not achieve its desired objective. The point of the oversight trip is to visit all the Department of Tourism infrastructure projects. DoT had 29 community-based projects, 10 of which are in Limpopo. The Committee wants to see those 10 projects and compare them to what is on paper. It also wants to observe the homesteads and general state of tourism in Limpopo.
Mr Boltina said the support team had looked at how this can be mitigated and had three suggestions for 29 March 2022. The Committee can revisit the decision it took in 2020 for a trip to Robben Island as this trip was cancelled due lockdown. Alternatively, there is the outstanding workshop requested by the Auditor-General or they have been looking to visit a new boutique hotel spa in Khayelitsha which is a fully black-owned establishment. When the House Chairperson gives the National Assembly programme for Quarter 2, it will see if a Limpopo oversight visit is possible.
The Chairperson said the oversight trip had to be altered due to the National Assembly programme amendments. They need to be present in Parliament to take part in the no confidence motion by Mr V Zungula (ATM) against President Ramaphosa and the no confidence motion by Mr J Steenhuisen (DA) against the President’s cabinet. It is a three-line whip so Members must be there to cast their votes and defend the positions of their respective political parties. As Members of Parliament, they are constituted from political parties and have party positions to defend in advancing the parliamentary agenda. That week was intended for oversight but the MPs had to revert to Cape Town to carry out their parliamentary duties.
The Chairperson said that the Committee had three options: the Robben Island planned trip, the AGSA workshop and the visit to the boutique hotel in Khayelitsha to conduct oversight on how transformation in rural township tourism is flourishing. This gives it the opportunity to engage with the hotel owner and receive first-hand information on where they need assistance to grow. The Chairperson proposed that the Committee strongly leans towards the Khayelitsha visit because this Committee wants to ensure that its small towns, villages, and townships are developed. This means that the previously disadvantaged are leveraged and included in the tourism value chain. This would be in line with the Committee’s agenda.
Mr De Freitas agreed to visiting the boutique hotel in Khayelitsha. He proposed the Committee go to Robben Island and return the same day and go to Khayelitsha to stay at the establishment and leave the next morning. This is so that they not only do oversight but have first-hand experience as guests at the boutique hotel.
Ms Winkler asked what will happen to the Limpopo oversight visit. She asked when the Committee will consider the KwaZulu-Natal oversight that she had suggested.
Ms Xego said oversight is important and the Committee is behind in its oversight function. She supported the Khayelitsha visit as it speaks directly to the Committee mandate. Khayelitsha must be its priority. It depends on budgetary implications if they can also visit Robben Island.
The Chairperson said that the Committee suggests using both days. Members can travel to Cape Town on Sunday and conduct oversight on Monday and Tuesday. The areas to be visited will be Robben Island and Khayelitsha. The trip to Khayelitsha, if possible, should not just be oversight. The Khayelitsha establishment should be given financial muscle by hosting Members of Parliament, if there is availability. For township products to flourish, they need to be given a financial boost.
The Chairperson replied to Ms Winkler that Mr Boltina has already indicated that the Committee will look for an oversight week in the next quarter programme. She
explained that before Ms Winkler joined the Committee, it had already conducted oversight in KZN. It visited the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Howick Falls, and Mpophomeni. The Committee is focused on spreading to the rest of the nine provinces. Limpopo has been earmarked and other provinces will be on the agenda before KZN is considered again.
The Chairperson raised the question Ms Winkler had written in the chat box about the Green Tourism Incentive Fund.
Ms Winkler responded and said she had written to the Chairperson about the harbour crisis.
The Chairperson said she had given feedback on how the Committee ’s oversight is conducted. She feels it would be unfair on other provinces if Committee returns to KZN. Returning to the same province repeatedly is not how the Committee conducts oversight.
Mr De Freitas said that he had an informal discussion with the previous Chairperson about the possibility of going on an international trip. He suggested the Committee go on an international trip to visit destinations that have been able to make a success of tourism. These places use tourism as a economic and job creator. He asked the possibility of the Committee making such a request as the financial year had just started. He asked if the idea had support in the Committee. There is a massive opportunity for Members to learn from countries that make a success of tourism.
The Chairperson replied that it is order to take an international trip during the five-year term. The Committee can ask the researcher and content advisor to put together a concept looking at which countries are best in line with the Committee's priorities.
Mr Boltina suggested the proposal be taken to the strategic planning session when the Committee deals with study tours, then the international trip can be placed there. The Committee will deliberate and decide on which countries to visit. Members have spoken about going overseas to France in the past which did not happen.
The Chairperson said as Members of Parliament, they engage with each other and are open to persuasion. They do not have the same strategic views but this does not mean views are not taken from others. This is what will be done at the strategic planning, as colleagues, they will allow for themselves to be persuaded. The Chairperson thanked the Committee for engaging. The next meeting will be in person on 22 March 2022
The Committee considered and adopted the minutes from its 8 March 2022 meeting.
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