In a virtual meeting, the Committee finalised and adopted the Committee Annual Performance Plan (APP) for 2022/23 and its Strategic Plan. Research had been provided to guide the Committee on the choice of a country for a benchmarking study tour. Committee members deliberated on which country to prioritise and the majority opted for France while others preferred Kenya. Applications for approval will be made for both.
The Committee considered and adopted its Resolution Tracking Tool to assist it in tracking progress in tourism projects and on Committee recommendations about challenges.
The Chairperson asked Ms Gomba to take over and chair the session as she had to go to the doctor. Before handing over, she commented that she was hoping to see Los Angeles included in the research as it is a huge tourism destination including Disneyland as its biggest attraction. She was also interested in looking at rural destination attractions.
Ms H Winkler (DA) opened the discussion and asked how South Africa compares to Kenya in terms of the wildlife tourism revenue it brings. It seemed that Kenya has had huge success in branding itself as an 'African experience'. Are there other Sub-Saharan African countries that have intervened using the Kenyan model of the African experience? Are there other countries that South Africa could look to whose tourism sector has bounced back successfully from the pandemic? This includes interventions and strategies put in place leading to phenomenal growth after Covid-19.
Ms S Xego (ANC) requested that there be a list of countries for the Committee to visit that is ordered according to priority. She suggested France as number one and Kenya as number two. She recommended that the Committee should not go to places where there is a water shortage.
Mr H Gumbi (DA) asked if there was consensus or a resolution taken on the study tour country.
Ms S Maneli (ANC) seconded the suggestion for France and Kenya in second place. The Committee should also choose another country in third place.
Ms Winkler asked if there had been a discussion on whether a study tour had been approved as well as the feasibility of such a trip. How would feedback be relayed to the Committee?
Ms L Makhubela-Mashele (ANC) also supported the country recommendations.
Ms P Mpushe (ANC) said that in terms of the procedure the Committee should decide on the country of choice after the researchers’ input. The Committee would them apply for approval.
Mr P Moteka (EFF) commented on country preference, saying that the Committee should rather put Kenya as first priority and France as second. This is because for quite some time there had been reports that Kenya is doing well in tourism. As an African country South Africa should go and learn from one of their own on how they keep their tourism sector at that level. Politically France may be controversial as it is intervening in Africa, in other words, it is reverting to their colonial tendencies.
Ms Xego suggested that given the mixed response, the Committee needs to vote on the priority country – France or Kenya.
Ms Makhubela-Mashele advised that something to consider in making the decision was the cost factor. In other words, number one should be the least expensive to visit which would be Kenya.
Ms Winker said a useful guiding factor should not solely be costs but also be based on what would work best for South Africa in its tourism recovery. Thus one would prioritize a country that has demonstrated the ability to apply interventions for tourism to grow significantly. One could also look at the types of tourism comparisons as well.
Dr Sibusiso Khuzwayo, Committee Content Advisor, replied to Mr Gumbi’s question that there was no consensus prior to this meeting and the objective is to reach a decision at this meeting. There had been proposals for many countries. From that list, the Committee had then requested the number be reduced which was done and most of the factors Members had raised in this meeting had been addressed. Looking at African countries, Kenya was the only one ticking all the criteria boxes.
On the tourism comparison, Kenya and South Africa have similar wildlife such as the big five and other animals. However, Kenya has what South Africa does not have, and making it more competitive than South Africa is the wildebeest migration which is quite popular throughout the world. Another thing working against South Africa is that the country has not mastered packaging culture at the level Kenya does. Other matters include bad environmental practices as in the way South Africa is treating its wildlife such as caged animals and tame animal hunting. There is a lot that South Africa can learn from Kenya on how to deal with such.
Looking at France they have incubators and a grading system similar to South Africa. They also have a tourism levy but they do this differently in that the money collected at a regional level is spent on the region.
For the application, what may work is for the Committee to get quotations for both countries and make one application for the Committee to go to both countries instead of one. Alternatively, if the Committee opts for cost efficiency, then Kenya is recommended.
The Committee does not have money allocated for international oversight. However, the APP has factored in a budget for an international visit which will also be submitted to the House Chairperson for approval.
Ms Sisanda Loni, Committee Researcher, replied that wildlife is said to have contributed approximately R55 billion to the Kenyan tourism economy so it plays a significant role. She did not have other statistics at this meeting and requested that she compile them for the Committee. On countries that have bounced back after the pandemic, this was a loaded question.
Ms Mpushe raised a point of order. She said that Dr Khuzwayo has done justice on the presentation and Ms Loni should withdraw from presenting as it is taking the Committee back.
The Acting Chairperson ruled for Ms Loni to continue.
Ms Loni replied that a number of factors come into play for tourism success post-Covid-19. These are based on country dynamics such as travel bans, access to vaccines, and how tourism was promoted. She asked if the question referred to domestic tourism or international arrivals.
The Acting Chairperson said that the tourism sector has been struggling for a number of years. The last time the Committee went to benchmark an international county was in 2011. During the past decade, there were no tourism benchmarking international trips. Was it logical to be talking about the budget for the study tour as the Committee has struggled the most compared to other Portfolio Committees? This benchmark trip will be helpful for the Committee in opening new ways to help the country. She requested that France be the first option. It may be counterproductive to take a flight to Kenya and find there are not many differences. She suggested that a combined application would be better.
Ms Maneli suggested instead of waiting for the researchers' guidance since the Committee had already agreed on both countries, the decision should be finalised in this meeting.
Ms Mpushe advised that both applications be submitted stating the necessary arguments. If the House Chairperson points out other concerns, then the Committee would need to advance further arguments and wait for approval.
Mr Moteka suggested that to be on the safe side, the Committee should do a combined application of going to France via Kenya and a separate application for Kenya. In the past, one has witnessed applications from other Committees being turned down due to cost which is a factor the Committee cannot overlook. Thus if the combined one is rejected, at least the Kenya oversight would be done.
Mr Gumbi said if the Committee desires to obtain value in its benchmarking, he does not support going to two countries but rather to one – considering the resources available. Based on the research thus far, France might be more ideal as what is learned could be internalized and localized in the South African context.
The Acting Chairperson ruled that both applications should be done by following all the necessary procedures. This should be done as soon as possible considering recess is coming up.
Dr Khuzwayo mentioned since the countries were decided upon, the request was to get an in-principal approval of the APP and the Strategic Plan.
Resolution tracking tool overview
Mr Jerry Boltina, Committee Secretary, said that the Committee has been trying to come up with a tracking tool for committee recommendations. The suggested template addressing that should be finalised as this was long overdue. It consists of basic details such as the resolution description; the action steps to resolve the matter; and the dates. In addition, there are colour codes as a priority rating scale from one to three, with one (red) being high priority and three (green) being low priority followed by a compatibility report. More information can be found in the template document.
This will work according to resolutions taken at Committee meetings. This is different to the National Assembly resolutions as there is an existing process for House resolutions through the Office of the Speaker where information is directed to the Ministry through the Speaker.
There are critical projects that the Committee needs to track. Since the Committee does not know the progress and current status of these in the provinces, what is being proposed is a tracking tool. On a quarterly basis, the document is circulated to the department and updates are given on these projects. Thus even if the Committee cannot physically visit certain areas there is still a way to be informed so that any challenges can be met with effective solutions.
Adoption of Tracking Tool template, APP and Strategic Plan
The Committee adopted the Resolution Tracking Tool template and the APP and Strategic Plan.
The previous meeting minutes were adopted before the meeting was adjourned.
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