ATC180911: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism on the implications of the High Level Panel (HLP) Report on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change on the Tourism Sector dated 11 September 2018


The Report of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism on the implications of the High Level Panel (HLP) Report on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change on the Tourism Sector dated 11 September 2018.

  1. Introduction


In December 2015, the Speakers’ Forum moved to establish an independent Panel of eminent South African persons to assess the content and implementation of legislation passed since 1994 in terms of its effectiveness and possible unintended consequences. The High Level Panel (HLP) on the Assessment of key Legislation and Acceleration of Fundamental Change was mandated to review legislation, assess implementation, identify gaps and propose action steps with the view to identifying legislation that require strengthening, amendment or change.


The report tabled at the Speakers Forum on 21 November 2017 was the culmination of the following processes: 

  • Public hearings conducted in all nine provinces during 2016 and 2017.
  • Roundtable sessions and workshops with subject experts and stakeholders.
  • Written submissions from members of the public.
  • Commissioned research reports.
  • Background papers compiled by the Parliamentary Research Unit. 


The resultant HLP Report, which is organised into relevant chapters, provides a synopsis of the prevailing challenges identified per thematic area, and proposes a way forward by means of a consolidated list of recommendations for each thematic area. This report provides an outline of the challenges and recommendations identified for the Tourism sector.


  1. Findings


The major finding of the HLP Report was the unintended consequences of the Immigration Regulations promulgated of 2014 in giving effect to the Immigration Act, No. 13 of 2002. The details of the Act and its unintended consequences is given in Table 1:


Table 1: Key findings of the HLP Report with regard to tourism


Issue Raised


Immigration Act, No. 13 of 2002

Regulation 6(2) passed in terms of the Act requires that the parents of all children who travel to and from South Africa produce an unabridged birth certificate reflecting the particulars of both parents

A significant decline in arrivals of, amongst others, (tourist) families into South Africa, which has affected tourism, and hence employment, negatively. This is particularly challenging, as one in every seven people in rural areas rely on the tourism industry for their livelihood.

Source: High Level Panel Report 2017





  1. Challenges


In terms of Regulation 6(2) of the Immigration Act, No. 13 of 2002, the children under the age of 18 cannot travel to South Africa without an unabridged birth certiļ¬cate. This requirement is unique to South Africa, as no other country requires travellers to carry certified copies of a child’s unabridged birth certificate. In addition, various other supporting documentation is required, which sometimes necessitates incurring legal costs and time to obtain in the case of single parents. This has resulted in a significant decline in arrivals of, amongst others, (tourist) families in South Africa since the birth certificate requirements became operational in 2015. This has a significant negative impact on tourism and hence employment, especially since one in every seven people in rural areas relies on the tourism industry for their livelihood.


In regard to land reform, the economic and developmental outcome of restitution has been very poor. A study conducted by the Community Agency for Social Enquiry (CASE) found that the majority of the 179 land restitution projects they assessed were not meeting their developmental objectives. Where ecotourism was the main aim, the majority of projects (88 percent) underperformed.


The study also acknowledges that South Africa is an attractive tourism destination. Tourism could contribute more significantly to job creation and economic growth, thereby reducing poverty. To this end, South Africa needs to develop a pro-poor tourism strategy that should include developing tourism skills; providing seed money to start the business and establish small co-operatives; giving a subsidy, land and assistance to entrepreneurs that wish to establish a tourism enterprise; and creating an enabling environment. Such an enabling environment would include better road infrastructure, appropriate zoning for the business and easier access to building permits. This will attract new tourists who are looking for affordable destinations.


  1. The recommendations of the HLP report


The study makes two major recommendations with regard to the tourism sector as presented in Table 2.

Table 2: Recommendations of the High Level Report with Regard to the tourism sector

Panel Recommendation

Relevant Sector / Joint Oversight

Priority (Short, Medium, Or Long Term)

The Panel urges Parliament to pass legislation that will require the State to invest resources to develop low-end tourism destinations in rural areas and the periphery where the majority of the population lives gradually, in order to attract tourists.

Tourism, Small Business Development


Parliament should conduct a fresh review of the requirement of unabridged birth certificates for minors, in consultation with all role-players in the tourism industry.

Home Affairs, Tourism


Source: High Level Panel Report 2017


  1. Committee observations


The Committee in its oversight work has observed the following issues in relation to the key findings and recommendations of the HLP Report:


  1. Legislative review


Tourism is a multi-sectoral industry that depends on other government departments and industry role-players to succeed. On one hand, good stakeholder relations are necessary to ensure that the tourism business, including large corporates and medium-sized tourism businesses, create economic linkages with emerging tourism entrepreneurs, thus creating a ‘win-win’ relationship that will harness the skills and experience of the well-established businesses for the growth and survival of emerging enterprises. On the other hand, sound intergovernmental relations are the core of the success of the tourism industry.


The Committee, therefore, maintains that the interventions of the State to invest resources to develop low-end tourism destinations in rural areas and the periphery where the majority of the population lives, in order to attract tourists, could be addressed comprehensively through policies and strategies other than by introducing a new legislation.


Constitutionally, tourism is a concurrent function and the government, at all levels, should budget for the sector to promote national and local economic development. In this regard, the Parliament must ensure that the national legislation is enabling enough to drive transformation and investment in emerging tourism enterprises. To a certain extent, the Committee has also influenced the establishment of the Tourism Transformation Fund (TTF) which is a dedicated capital investment funding established by the Department of Tourism in collaboration with the National Empowerment Fund (NEF). The TTF focuses specifically on financial support for black investors and communities investing in capital projects in the tourism sector. The TTF aims to drive transformation in the tourism sector in a more direct and impactful manner that will not only assist black-owned tourism enterprises to expand and grow, but also catalyse the rise of a new generation of black owned youth, women and community owned tourism enterprises to take the tourism sector to new heights. The Fund is administered by the NEF on behalf of the Department of Tourism.


He Committee has observed that despite the current Tourism B-BBEE Sector Code, the tourism industry remains grossly untransformed. This is confirmed by the findings of the Baseline Study on the State of Transformation in Tourism in South Africa commissioned by the B-BBEE Charter Council in 2017. It is concerning that the tourism sector has not transformed despite being the trailblazer in adopting the sector codes. The legislation meant to influence the transformation of the sector has not affected any meaningful change in the structure of the tourism economy, and patterns of ownership within the tourism sector. The government should therefore augment the B-BBEE Sector Codes by conceptualising strategies and projects meant to drive transformation.


The Committee has also championed that the Department of Tourism engages all provinces and local municipalities to determine how the government owned budget resorts could be commercialised. The Department has commenced with the process of developing an ownership and operational model for the budget resorts. This will go a long way in infusing transformation within the sector.


The Department of Tourism has made an undertaking that the Draft Tourism Amendment Bill will be introduced in the 6th Parliament to address many issues raised by the Committee in its oversight work. The legislation at a national level should provide wide ranging provisions that coerce the tourism sector to transform with a view to make tourism work for all South Africans. There is also a need for a joint oversight work and alignment of SMME programmes with the Department of Small Business Development.


  1. Immigration Regulations


The Committee indicated in its 2016 Budget Review and Recommendations Report that the introduction of the new Immigration Regulations in the 2014/15 financial year cycle was the key development in the service delivery environment and policy space within the tourism sector. Changes to South Africa’s Immigration Regulations affected travel from visa-requiring countries, as well as travel with children from visa-exempt countries. It was notable that in 2015 South Africa was ranked 37th in the world in terms of international tourist arrivals, down from the previous ranking of 34th in 2014. In Africa, South Africa was the third most visited country in 2014 after Morocco and Egypt. However, the country’s tourism performance was relatively subdued in 2015, with total revenue from both international and domestic tourism growing by 0.8 percent to R91.8 billion in 2015 from R91.0 billion in 2014.


The Committee observed that contrary to the policy decisions taken by the South African government on Immigration Regulations, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation Visa Openness Report (2015) indicated that when considering the advances in the different regions between 2010 and 2015; most visa facilitation measurements took place in Africa, Asia and Pacific, with 40 percent and 29 percent respectively. Particularly, East and West Africa made important changes by replacing traditional visa with issuing a visa on arrival. Consequently, the international arrivals to South Africa have been below the global average and the African content average due to, amongst other things, the administrative burden put on the aspirant travellers to South Africa on acquiring the requisite travel documents. The specific issues raised by the tourism industry were mainly around the unintended consequences of biometric data capturing for international visitors into the country and the continued requirement of unabridged birth certificates for minors under the age of 18 traveling into South Africa.


In realising the impact, the Immigration Regulations were having on the tourism sector, the Inter-Ministerial Task Team lead by the then Deputy President Mr Cyril Ramaphosa made some recommendations to amend the Regulations. However, these have not been fully implemented to date and the sector continues to bleed from the unintended consequences.


The latest Tourism and Immigration Report issued by StatsSA on the 20th June 2018 alludes to a continued declining trend in international tourist arrivals. The report reveals that even though South Africa saw marginal growth of 2.8 percent from June last year, the international arrivals continued to decline, reflecting a drop of 1.7 percent year-to-date arrivals. The report indicates that there was marginal increase in arrivals from the two key source markets, USA up by 1.2 percent and the UK up by 3.2 percent.  China also recorded an increase of 9.1 percent. However, the rest of the markets show a decline with Germany down by 12.8 percent; Australia down by 9.1 percent; India down by 8.5 percent; France down 8.7 percent; Brazil down by 10.6 percent; Netherlands down by 0.9 percent; and Canada down by 0.7 percent.


It is concerning that South Africa continues to perform badly against the world average. On the 26th June 2018, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation released the statistics on the global performance of the tourism sector, where it indicated that international tourism performance exceeded expectations in the first months of 2018. The international tourist arrivals grew 6 percent in the first four months of 2018, compared to the same period last year, not only continuing the strong 2017 trend, but exceeding UNWTO’s forecast for 2018. Growth was led by Asia and the Pacific (+8 percent) and Europe (+7 percent). Africa (+6 percent), the Middle East (+4 percent) and the Americas (+3 percent) also recorded good results.


The Committee is, however, cognisant of the intervention currently being implemented by the Ministries of Tourism and Home Affairs in dealing with the challenges. The Department of Home Affairs announced on the 12th July 2018 that they were going to implement a new modernisation programme that will make travelling with minors easier, as the details of South African parents will now appear on the children’s passports. This was scheduled to begin on the 13th July 2018. However, travellers into South Africa will still need to carry their children's birth certificates if the parents’ details are not printed on the child's passport. The Committee requires a full update on the matter from both Ministries. The desired state is for the Immigration Regulations to be amended to facilitate ease of travel for tourists and for the capacity of the visa facilitating offices abroad to be adequately equipped to speedily issue visas for aspirant tourists.


  1. Committee recommendations


Having considered the findings and recommendations of the HLP Report, the Committee recommends that:


  1. The Speaker writes to the Minister of Tourism requesting him to expedite the legislative review process currently underway, and ensure that the Tourism Amendment Bill discursively contains clauses that facilitate transformation and investments in the tourism sector.





  1. The Speaker writes to the Leader of Government Business requesting that government updates Parliament on the strides made by the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) removing the unintended consequences of the immigration regulations on various sectors, including tourism and investment in South Africa, with an intention to effect regulatory amendments, including the scrapping of the requirement of tourists to carry the Unabridged Birth Certificates, implementation of E-visas, and facilitating ease of travel with visa exempted countries, before the end of the 2018/19 financial year. 


6.3        The Speaker writes to the Leader of Government Business requesting him to engage the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), and the National Treasury to ensure that tourism is prioritised at provincial and local government levels through determining a percentage of budget that should be ring-fenced for tourism in the Division of Revenue allocations, particularly in provinces and municipalities that have identified tourism as a priority sector in their Provincial Growth and Development Strategies (PGDS) and Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) respectively, and to ensure that these municipalities also use the Local Economic Development Fund for tourism product development, market access, and destination enhancement, and report back to Parliament before the end of the 2018/19 financial year. 



Report to be considered.






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