ATC181128: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism on observing the tourism month activities in the Eastern Cape Province, Dated 21 November 2018
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism on observing the tourism month activities in the Eastern Cape Province, Dated 21 November 2018
The Portfolio Committee on Tourism, having undertaken a visit to observe the World Tourism day in Mthatha, Eastern Cape Province on 26-27 September 2018, reports as follows:
The Committee received an invitation from the Ministry of Tourism to attend the 2018 tourism month activities. The Committee considered and accepted the invitation in principle subject to approval by Parliament. The political approval was sought for the Committee to honour the Minister’s invitation to attend the 2018 Tourism Month and World Tourism Day activities organised by the National Department of Tourism (NDT) to be held on 26-27 September 2018, in Mthatha, Eastern Cape Province. The approval was granted for three members and one support staff, since the activity coincided with the constituency period.
Tourism has been identified as a priority sector due to its substantial contribution to job creation, surpassing agriculture and other industries, as well as its contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.
In September of each year, South Africa celebrates a Tourism Month. This year, the focus was on “Tourism and digital transformation.” The 2018 UNWTO theme for World Tourism Day is Tourism and the Digital Transformation, and it highlights the need for increased investment in digital technologies to create an environment for innovation and entrepreneurship in tourism.
South Africa adapted the UNWTO’s theme to Inclusive and Quality Growth of the Tourism Sector Through Digital Transformation, to encourage travellers to explore the country, whilst fostering an awareness of the socio-economic benefits of technological advances in creating opportunities to improve inclusivity, community empowerment and efficient resource management in the sector.
The 2018 Tourism Month activities were hosted by the Eastern Cape Province. The National Department of Tourism in collaboration with the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, South African Tourism, and the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency hosted the World Tourism Day on 27 September 2018.
The Committee received an invitation from the Minister of Tourism to attend the activities. The Committee accepted the invitation in principle subject to approval by Office of the House Chairperson and the Office of the Chief Whip, which was later granted for only 3 members and one support staff.
World Tourism Day is an annual event celebrated worldwide in September each year, focusing on the importance of tourism to the economy. The objectives for South Africa this year are:
- To entrench a culture of domestic tourism through strategic activities designed to engage South Africans to travel in their own country;
- To raise awareness of travel and tourism within the country with focus on the least visited local destinations and to promote geographic spread;
- To celebrate and generate awareness on the enormous contribution domestic tourism makes to the economy and to job creation; and
- To showcase Eastern Cape as an exciting and affordable holiday destination and to get visitors to travel to the province more often.
The delegation comprised of the members and support staff as indicated in Table 1 below.
Table1: Committee attendance
African National Congress
Hon. L.S Makhubela-Mashele, MP (Chairperson) Hon. V. Bam-Mugwanya, MP
Hon. P.E Adams, MP
Hon. J. Vos, MP
Mr. J.M Boltina, Committee Secretary
Although the House Chairperson approved for three members only to attend, and after the approval was received, Hon. Bam-Mugwanya submitted a proposal that since she resides in Mthatha, the Committee could send another member, as her attendance would have no financial implications to Parliament. The proposal was gladly welcomed by the Committee, and Hon. Xego was approached but unable to attend due to constituency commitments.
- Build up towards World Tourism Day Celebrations - Tourism Public Lecture, 2018
The Committee was invited to attend the Tourism Public Lecture for 2018 at the Walter Sisulu University as part of build-up to the World Tourism Day celebrations. Although the Committee did not attend the lecture due to parliamentary business, the Ministry and the Department did share the information with the Committee.
The Tourism Public Lecture is celebrated annually and hosted by the Minister as a platform to exchange and share ideas with different stakeholders such as industry, academics, policy makers and practitioners in order to enhance strategies, planning, and policy decision - making within the tourism sector.
The Department of Tourism in partnership with the Eastern Cape Provincial Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency, and Walter Sisulu University hosted the public lecture at the University, in Mthatha. The lecture was under the theme: “Tourism and the Digital Transformation”, aligned to the United Nations World Tourism Day Celebrations.
The Public Lecture focused on how digital transformation is affecting the demand and supply of tourism services and products, with special focus on small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs). It also focussed on opportunities provided to tourism, by technological advances including artificial intelligence and digital platforms. The UNWTO considers digital transformation, innovation as part of the solution to the challenge of responding to continued growth of a sustainable tourism sector.
The aims of the public lecture were to achieve amongst others, the following objectives:
- To raise awareness about the impact of technology and digital transformation in the sector, particularly tourism enterprises;
- To highlight technological and digital trends affecting and determining the future of tourism;
- To stimulate government, industry and civil society cooperation around the issues of digital transformation and sharing economy;
- To share best practices and case studies on digital transformation for tourism enterprises; and
- To encourage academia to conduct research to inform plans, policy and strategies in relation to digital transformation.
5.The World Tourism Day Celebrations
The Committee attended the events as follows:
- Welcoming remarks by the Premier
A day before the World Tourism Day, the Premier of the Province Mr Musualle welcomed all guests to the Province of the Legends.
The Premier talked about the Madiba trail – named after President Nelson Mandela’s clan name of the Thembu Royal family. He said the trail leads hikers to, among others, Mvezo, on the banks of the Mbashe River, where he was born, Qunu, where he grew up and got his primary education and Mqhekezweni, where his leadership skills were developed under the stewardship of Chief Jongintaba Mtirara.
Nelson Mandela Museum has features and display of the life and times of Madiba. The second leg of the Museum is at Qunu where there is a Community Museum and Youth and Heritage Centre. This leg also covers Mandela’s childhood and his primary schooling. The third leg is an open air museum at his birth place of Mvezo.
The premier invited all visitors to enjoy their stay in Mthatha and explore all offerings. He said the King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality (KSD) is home to some of the most unspoiled countryside, and the reserve is without doubt worth a visit.
- Message of support from Women in Tourism (WiT)
Ms. Lizelle Maurice, Chairperson of the Women in Tourism in the Eastern Cape extended their message of support. She said that her organisation embraced tourism and people, because tourism is about people and Women in Tourism represents SMMEs.
The (WiT) is business run, and government supported initiative. The gathering was informed of a recent launch in East London branch, with a sub-branch in King Williams Town. The WiT encouraged all women within the Buffalo City tourism industry to join the new exciting venture.
The organisation is encouraging women in business to compare the 4 star and 2 star graded establishments and look for opportunities that can be exploited in that space. It has also a development component to assist SMMEs.
It will use the East London launch experience to assist business women of Mthatha. Ms Maurice is of the view that Mthatha can succeed due its richness in cultural tourism and attraction sites.
- Provincial message
The MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs, Finance and Tourism, Mr Oscar Mabuyane, MPL in the province credited the province as the country’s premier adventure and adrenalin destination that offers unique tourism experience of memorable cultural and adventure offerings.
Whilst the province continues to enjoy steady growth of tourism, the MEC is of the view that more can still be done for the sector to stimulate local economies, promote community beneficiation, and further diversify its product offerings.
He said tourism was integral to the province economic development plans. The Eastern Cape Province will continue to invest in tourism to improve the livelihood of the people. The MEC assured the gathering at Mthatha Dam, which is a viable tourism attraction that if the area is adequately developed, it could benefit both tourists and the local community.
The MEC made the following commitments:
- That the province will invest more in heritage and culture;
- Tourism will be prioritised;
- To ensure that all municipalities demonstrate what is being done to promote and develop tourism for local communities; and
- Develop trust in government to work for people.
- Address by Minister of Tourism
The Minister of Tourism delivered the main message of the day. He said World Tourism Day is a global event and celebrations were taking place internationally. This is so because tourism brings together all stakeholders, and the Eastern Cape Province has set a new standard.
The picturesque backdrop of the rolling hills where the former Head of State, Nelson Mandela spent his childhood set the scene as South Africa celebrated World Tourism Day. More than one thousand community members from OR Tambo District and surrounding villages joined tourism stakeholders to celebrate World Tourism Day and the socio-economic and environmental values it accrues for the country and the globe.
The Minister said according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), more than 1.3 billion people have travelled around the globe, and anticipated that these tourism numbers would increase as tourism grows on the African continent.
The sheer size of global tourism and its impact on many other sectors, and all of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), puts it at the forefront of social responsibility, which today goes hand-in-hand with innovation at all
levels. The value chain is large, and about 9 percent of the South African economy comes from tourism.
South Africa’s domestic numbers have been relatively low, but the country is confident that through economic recovery and the stimulus package announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa can turn the tide and make tourism a significant contributor to growth aspirations, and the achievement of short term economic recovery targets and development goals.
On visa related reforms, the Minister said the reforms will include amendments to the regulations applying to foreign minors travelling to South Africa, which will be gazetted in October. Negotiations on visa waivers and relation of visa requirements for certain countries are also being finalised.
More than 1.5 million people are currently employed in the tourism value chain, and the sector presents a plethora of opportunities to create more jobs and entrepreneurs. The World Tourism Day Celebrations took in the Eastern Cape as the country celebrates the centenaries of two struggle stalwarts from the province - former president Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu.
In celebration of their legacies, South African Tourism initiated the Shot Left Travel Week from 24-30 September 2018 that features discounted deals that include iconic tourism destinations that touched on the lives of the two stalwarts. During the travel week, South Africans had an opportunity to cash in on great travel discounts across the country from close to 300 service providers. This was a Black Friday of travel deals.
The Committee has observed the following:
- Mthatha Dam is under-utilised and there are many tourism activities that can be developed for the area. There is a prospect of picnic sites overlooking the Dam, easy access to game, and a “real African feel” about the Luchaba Nature Reserve make it more than viable option, particularly given its proximity to the Nelson Mandela Museum; and
- Luchaba Nature Reserve is adjacent to the Mthatha Dam and is home to variety of wildlife, a series of wetlands and grasslands that support a wide selection of birds. These activities can be harnessed to support tourism development in the area.
After consideration of all activities of the two-day attended by the Committee as part of the Tourism Month, the Committee recommends that:
- The Department of Tourism, South African Tourism; provincial authorities and the private sector enhance the Tourism Month experience in provinces where the day is celebrated by organising tours for the locals, especially the designated groups to visit local attractions.
- The Committee to consider undertaking second phase of an oversight visit to Eastern Cape Province, in particular to the King Sabata Dalindyebo (KSD) municipality, since the area is rich in tourism and heritage but underdeveloped; and
- The Department and South African Tourism assist the Province through the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) to exploit its unique biodiversity, heritage sites, recreational activities, wonderful wildlife, and amazing coastline for the benefit of the tourism sector.
The importance of digital technologies in tourism, providing opportunities for innovation and preparing the sector for the future of work, was at the centre of World Tourism Day Celebrations. The day was a unique opportunity to raise awareness on tourism actual and potential contribution to sustainable development.
The 2018 World Tourism Day has helped to put in perspective the opportunities provided to tourism, by technological advances including data, artificial intelligence and digital platforms, on the map of sustainable development.
The Committee is of the view that harnessing innovation and digital advances provides tourism with opportunities to improve inclusiveness, local community empowerment and efficient resource management, amongst other objectives within the wider sustainable development agenda.
Report to be considered
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