ATC191104: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism on Observing the Tourism Day Celebrations and Oversight Work at Howick in Kwazulu-Natal Province, dated 29 October 2019



The Portfolio Committee on Tourism, having undertaken an oversight visit to Howick and having attended the World Tourism Day celebrations at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site in KwaZulu-Natal Province on 26-28 September 2019, reports as follows:


  1. Introduction


The Committee received an invitation from the Ministry of Tourism to attend the 2019 Tourism Month activities. The invitation was considered and accepted in principle subject to approval by Parliament. The political approval was sought for the Committee to honour the Ministers’ invitation to attend the 2019 World Tourism Day celebrations organised by the Department of Tourism (DT) that was to be held at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Howick, KwaZulu-Natal Province on 27 September 2019.  The approval was granted for the Committee to attend and conduct oversight in Howick. The activities coincided with the constituency period.   

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) officially recognised the 27th September as an official World Tourism day, which has been observed by all member states since 1980. The 27th was declared as such because it is the day when the United Nations World Trade Organization’s (UNWTO) statutes were originally adopted. The day is designed to bring attention to the importance of tourism to the international community.

The month of September was declared as a Tourism Month in South Africa. This annual celebration coincides with the Heritage Month and focusses on the importance of tourism to the economy of South Africa. This year, the focus was under the theme “Tourism and jobs - a better life for all.”

The Tourism Month provides the tourism industry with the opportunity for a heightened focus on the importance of tourism to the local economy. It also serves as an opportunity to promote domestic tourism and creates a culture of travel amongst South Africans.

The Tourism Month aims to encourage South Africans to travel domestically to get a better understanding of the affordable, exciting and world class attractions that are available on their own doorsteps. This dedicated Tourism Month activity normally takes place in lesser visited provinces to give them an opportunity to showcase their tourism facilities and attractions.

This year’s Tourism Month activities were hosted by the KwaZulu-Natal Province as planned. The celebrations took place at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Howick. The Department of Tourism in collaboration with South African Tourism and the Provincial Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (KZN EDTEA) partnered to host the World Tourism Day on 27 September 2019.


  1. Objectives


The 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 were:

  • To cultivate and create awareness among the society globally on the significance of tourism, and its social, financial and cultural worth and value.
  • 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 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 KwaZulu-Natal as an exciting and affordable rural holiday destination and to get visitors to travel to the province. 


  1. Delegation


Although the House Chairperson approved for the Committee to attend, and after the approval was received, Hon. Makhubela-Mashele and Hon. Xego submitted apologies due to constituency commitments. Hon Krumbock resides in Howick, and his attendance had no financial implications to Parliament. The delegation comprised of the members and support staff as indicated in Table 1 below.


Table1: Committee attendance

Political Party


African National Congress

Hon. SOR Mahumapelo, MP (Chairperson)

Hon. ZJ Peter, MP

Hon. MM Gomba, MP

Hon. HG April, MP

Hon. E Myeni, MP

Hon. J Nxumalo, MPL

Democratic Alliance

Hon. MSF de Freitas, MP

Hon. HS Gumbi, MP

Hon. GR Krumbock, MP

Economic Freedom Fighters

Hon. PG Moteka, MP

Inkatha Freedom Party

Hon. KP Sithole, MP

African Independent Congress

Hon. MP Galo, MP


Support staff:

Mr. JM Boltina, Committee Secretary

Dr. PS Khuzwayo, Content Advisor

Ms. S Loni, Researcher

Ms. N Mnyovu, Committee Assistant

Ms. S Govender, Parliamentary Communication Service



The officially approved programme for this oversight programme was as follows:







Wednesday, 25eptember






Committee travels


Committee parts from OR Tambo International Airport (JHB)

Committee arrives at Pietermaritzburg Airport

Pick up Transport to Dunning Country House, Howick 

Thursday, 26 September



09H00 – 10H00

Public Education session with stakeholders



10H00 – 11H00



Site Visit and Briefing at Howick Falls


11H00 – 11H15



Presentation by KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs



11H15 – 11H30



Presentation by uMgungundlovu District Municipality and Umngeni Local Municipality



11H30 – 12H30



Stakeholder Engagements at Howick Agricultural Hall


12H30 – 13H00



Way Forward

 13H30 – 14H30

Media Briefing and Q & A session at The Farmers Daughter


15H30 – 17H30

Committee Tour of the Nelson Mandela Capture Site


17H30 – 19H30

Networking Cocktail at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site




Friday, 27 September

Official Proceedings


10H30 – 10H50

Guests ushered to their seats


10H45 – 10H50

Dignitaries walk in from the Exhibition and take their seats


11H00 – 11H05

Welcome to KZN video


11H05 – 11H10

Programme Director to acknowledge guests

11H10 – 11H15

Welcome by uMgungundlovu District Mayor, Cllr. Tobekile Maphumulo


11H15 – 11H25

Announcement of tourism Legacy Project: Deputy Minister, F. Mahlalela


11H25 – 11H40

Dance and Poetry Production of the Freedom Route, K-Cap


11H40 – 11H50

Remarks by Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism: Mr. SOR Mahumapelo, MP


11H50 – 11H55

Video of key KZN nodes that are driven by tourism and how they have created jobs


11H55 – 12H10

MEC speech supported by power point presentation – focus on key tangible projects that illustrate tourism and jobs


12H10 – 12H15

Sho’t Left Travel Week video


12H15 – 12H40

Minister of Tourism – Key note address


12H40 – 12H45

Vote of Thanks by uMgeni Local Mayor, Cllr Sizwe Sokhela



Lunch, entertainment and market open for guests to make purchases & food tasting


28 September 2019


08H30 – 13H00

Umtelebhelo Traditional Horse Racing Event.


Due to a number of issues that were raised by stakeholders at the Agricultural Hall, and a realisation that there were other sites that needed to be visited, the Committee took a decision to go to Mpophomeni Tourism Centre before continuing with the scheduled programme at the Mandela Capture Site. This decision was made for the Committee to have a full understanding of the rural and township issues raised by the Chairperson of the Zulu Mpophomeni Tourism Experience. Some members of the Portfolio Committee interacted with people in the informal settlement at the top of the falls. Some members of the Portfolio Committee interacted with people in the informal settlement at the top of the falls. On the 28th September, the scheduled attendance of the Umtelebhelo Traditional Horse Racing was marred by the late start of the event.


  1. Committee oversight work in Howick


The Committee had been informed that tourism in the area of Howick and surroundings is gradually deteriorating. This area used to be an important tourism destination, but due to neglect, businesses are closing down, X-rated activities are conducted in the area, and tourism has suffered. This has led to the loss of jobs and added to the crisis of unemployment in the country.

The Committee agreed that as a build-up towards the celebrations, the Committee support team should incorporate an oversight visit to Howick Falls to assess the state of tourism. This had to include engagements with the KZN Destination Management Organisation, KZN EDTEA, local tourism SMMEs and other relevant stakeholders, such as the Municipality and the District. The stakeholder engagement took place on 26th and 28 September 2019 was a traditional horse racing event called Umtelebhelo        


  1. Site visit to Howick Falls


The Committee visited the Howick Falls and was told the area has been declining as a tourist area over the last few years. The reason advanced for the decline is crime, muggings, drunk driving, drug dealings, bad press and indecent behaviour in public and the general maintenance of the area. As a result of the general lawlessness, businesses reported declining turnovers and some have closed or moved out of the area. The job losses were estimated at about 60 jobs. 

The Committee was shocked to witness that there are also informal settlements residing in the Falls view site. The Committee was told the matter has been raised for over two years with the municipality and Amafa. The Committee raised its concern about the plight of the vulnerable, especially the children who are currently exposed to serious danger, because there is no existing barrier between the Falls and the informal settlements.    


  1. Meeting with tourism stakeholders


The stakeholder engagement was held at the Howick Agricultural Hall and was attended by a wide array of tourism stakeholders, including the national Department of Tourism; provincial Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs; UMgungundlovu District Municipality; Umngeni Local Municipality; representatives of various organised tourism formations; the communities of Howick, Mpophomeni, and wider UMngeni Municipality.


  1. Chairpersons remarks


The Chairperson of the Committee, in his introductory remarks, indicated that the main aim of the oversight to Howick was to bring prosperity to communities through tourism. To achieve that prosperity, the constitution of the country alludes to a united, democratic, and non-sexist South Africa. One of the important ingredients to build prosperity and fight poverty and crime, in a South Africa where there will be no racial undertones but one South Africa, the necessary building blocks must be put together. This is premised on a society that must achieve unity in diversity, wherein diversity and differences should become opportunities to find convergence. Differences should not bring more antagonism amongst South Africans.

The Portfolio Committee on Tourism conducts oversight over the Executive, e.g. ensures that the Minister of Tourism spends money in line with the expectations of the society. In this regard, people should be central to the plans of the department. To ensure that the communities become part of tourism planning and oversight, the Committee has adopted a framework that establishes a structure called the Legislative Tourism Forum (LETOFO). The LETOFO will be an oversight structure equivalent to the MinMec structure of the Executive, and all Portfolio Committees in the provinces will work together with the national legislature as a unit.

The Committee recognises that when one talks poverty and its stubbornness, it is found in the villages, townships (permanent monuments of Apartheid), Small Towns/ Small dorpies. There is a need for a special focus to these neglected areas of society. This will be done through the establishment of Village Based Oversight Forums. In planning for the budget, there should be a clear four cycles of planning rings with the prioritisation order of villages, townships, small dorpies, and then big cities. This will ensure that the budget should go to where it is needed the most.

The Chairperson acknowledged the investment by the SMME at the Baloyi Restaurant. He reiterated the need for supporting such establishments with, amongst other things, the enactment of bylaws to ensure a conducive business environment. This, however, needs a flexible regime that will benefit everyone as a win-win situation between the tourism businesses and patrons of the Howick Falls precinct.  The Chairperson also pledged support to the Zulu Mpophomeni Experience and expressed a need for all spheres of government to conceptualise and implement focussed programmes that support township and rural tourism. This is meant to entrench transformation and assist township and rural tourism to flourish in Mpophomeni, to emulate and catch with the development in the matured destinations such as Howick.


  1. Public Education


The stakeholder engagement incorporated the Public Education component sponsored by the Parliamentary Communications. It was mentioned that the role of Public Education is to support and complement the work of Committees and work of Parliament in general. It was reiterated that Parliament   is the Heritage Site and should be treated as such. People were encouraged to visit the Parliamentary precinct and see for themselves where the laws of the country are made. Public education is done, amongst others, through distributing pamphlets explaining about the work of Parliament such as law making and budget process. This achieves the goal of popularising the work of Parliament and assisting communities to understand what the elected officials do for citizens. The engagement of the public is done to give effect to Section 19 of the Constitution which espouses the need for communities to oversee the work of Members of Parliament.  In this regard, communities need to know who is responsible to make the laws, and what is the process involved. A number of brochures were distributed to the public, including the law making processes.


  1. Umngeni Local Municipality


Mr Sandile Makhaye from the Office of the Municipal Manager made a short presentation on behalf of Umngeni Municipality. It was mentioned by the municipality that by 2035 uMngeni will be a destination of choice and a hub of excellence providing quality services and improved quality of life. Tourism is at the centre of economic growth within the municipality. In this regard the municipality acknowledges the challenges faced by the tourism industry and has developed a basket of remedial actions to bring tourism to its former glory. The Remedial Actions include installation of warning signs at Howick; installation of CCV Cameras; development of a Community Safety Plan; improving picnic sites, parking, viewing platform, ablution facilities, and stalls at Riverside; at a strategic level municipality has developed a Howick Falls Precinct Plan submitted to COGTA; engaging of SAPS; appointment of Wardens to patrol Howick Falls; employment of Tourism Safety Monitors for a period of 12 months; pursuing more Public Private Partnerships for infrastructure development; and improving crime prevention and overall cleanliness at Howick Falls.


  1. Inputs by UMgungundlovu District Municipality


The presentation by UMgungundlovu District Municipality was done by Mr James Martin of UMgungundlovu Economic Development Agency. The Howick Falls Consultative Forum has developed a vision for Howick Falls which entails that “Driven by a world-class marketing strategy, to capitalise on the unique beauty of the Howick Falls and its surrounds through the provision of diversified hospitality, sporting, tourism and cultural offerings in a collaborative manner that upholds the balance of the indigenous ecosystem, strengthens local enterprise, maximises opportunities of job creation and education to local residents and embraces all transformational opportunities.” The projects implemented by the UMgungundlovu Economic development Agency include, but are not limited to:

  • The Fresh Produce Market – supporting Black farmers;
  • Tourism Strategy for the District – to be done by December 2019 – linked to a web-based tool with SEO, that will promote the various organisations of the District, across the world -at no cost with special focus on Black owned enterprises;
  • Trout Fishing – catering for fresh water fishing enthusiast with processing factory;
  • Development of the precinct from the Howick Falls that runs all the way to KwaNgwevana;
  • Expanding the Nogqaza precinct to KwaMevana – five projects in all;
  • Resuscitating the beer hall;
  • Build a library and a hall to KwaMevana;
  • Resuscitate the sporting activities at the sports field;
  • Data collection (stories) for all identified projects;
  • Upgrade of the Howick Falls – based on the legend of Nyami Nyami, including:
    • There is a branded “trademark” of the Ikanyamba;
    • Families feel safe and entertained;
    • Adults can find a recreational facility separate from the family area;
    • Various sporting / extreme activities create contribute to the destination;
    • Global Tourists can enjoy a Truly South African hospitality experience;
    • Increase in numbers of local, national and international tourists;
    • Strengthen the Tourism offerings of the:
      • Midlands Heritage Route;
      • Zulu Mpophomeni Experience;
      • The Mandela Capture Site;
      • The Boer Concentration Camp Memorial;
      • The Sarmcol 4 memorial;
  • Howick Falls – does not have a strong tourism clout but will be developed as a collective of projects around the municipality;
  • Howick Falls Forum – involves all stakeholders in the area;
  • Linking with the mountain biking Karkloof; and
  • Slides over the Falls valley.


  1. Inputs by James Nxumalo, MPL


Hon James Nxumalo, MPL, who is the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee responsible for tourism in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature, made a few remarks.  Mr Nxumalo indicated that as the Province of KwaZulu-Natal they will identify other tourism destinations affected by crime and associated decline in numbers throughout the province and develop appropriate response mechanisms. The Province is well aware of the problems in the Howick area and its associated influence in declining tourist numbers to other destinations, such as Mpophomeni. In that regard, the provincial legislature will engage the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Hon Nomusa Dube-Ncube on interventions that need to be implemented to resuscitate tourism in the declining destinations throughout the province. The Provincial Legislature will also convene a follow up meeting with stakeholders to get a deeper understanding of issues.


  1. Input by Councillor Barnard


Councillor Barnard from UMgungundlovu District Municipality made an impassioned submission about the state of tourism. Generally, the challenges faced by the tourism sector are due to over-regulation by the government. Self- regulation should be promoted with less interference by the government. UMgungundlovu District and Umngeni Local Municipality are destinations linked with Durban as a hub. Tourism development in the area should therefore be anchored on Durban as a hub. There is also a missed opportunity in tourism development in that the rich history and Zulu wars which create a number of opportunities is not factored in tourism strategies. It was acknowledged that the economy was strained historically, and this needs to be changed through tourism. There are also historical issues that need to be resolved such as the now defunct Umngeni Tourism Board whose members now serve on the UMgungundlovu Economic Development Agency.


  1. Representative from the Umngeni Environmental NGO


A representative for the organisation dealing with environmental issues in the area raised challenges related to the Umngeni Biosphere affect which affects the Umngeni River catchment. To resolve some of these challenges the government should consider declaring Howick Falls Park as National Heritage Site


  1. Inputs from the Business Chamber


The representative from the local business chamber highlighted a number of challenges, including no support at all from the municipality on cleanliness and maintenance of tourist attractions; some businesses made about R2 million turnover about two years ago which has since declined by a quarter; about 10 businesses in the area have closed down; about 60 jobs have been lost adding to poverty in the local communities; SAPS is not helping with curbing the crime; the number of busses stopping at the destination has declined; the Gorge Walk Restaurant has been vandalised. These sentiments were supported by Councillor Holmes who wanted clarity on when will all the proposed changes would be made.


  1. Inputs from Pietermaritzburg Tourism


Mr Dumisani Mhlongo who represented PMB Tourism raised a number of concerns about the tourism growth in the region. He suggested a number of solutions to the issues, including a need for Public Private Partnerships; assisting the Community Tourism Organisations (CTOs) with necessary support; empowering CTOs to assist in locating intermediaries for tourism e.g. business partners; dealing with the disjuncture between plans and implementation; dealing with the enforcement of bylaws; improving maintenance and upkeep of attractions; dealing with the lack of transformation in the tourism industry; the need to repeal the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA) which is prohibitive to entrepreneurs and requires a lot of studies to be commissioned whilst emerging entrepreneurs do not have money to appoint consultants; and a need to deal with noise level bylaws which restricts recreation by locals and tourists as it is regarded as noise pollution.


  1. Inputs from a young entrepreneur


A young entrepreneur who owns a Coffee Shop raised concerns with regard to the police who do not arrest people who are drinking in public yet the patrol vans are always seen the area when this is happening; complete lawlessness in the area; fighting and public violence; poor maintenance of the Howick Falls.


  1. Inputs from the Howick-Umngeni Community Organisation


The representative of the Howick-Umngeni Community Organisation (HUCTO) added to inputs they had made earlier in the site visit. This related to a need for a platform for a coherent tourism voice in the municipality to deal with tour issues in the region through an inclusive Community Tourism Organisation.


  1. Inputs from Zulu Mpophomeni Experience


Mr Nkosikhona Ndlovu of the Zulu Mpophomeni Tourism Experience raised a concern about the reported programmes to revamp the Howick Falls precinct without the consultation and the involvement of the locals. He raised a need for community consultation to make communities aware and understand the value of tourism and attraction sites. This will assist with buy-in and preventing vandalism of tourism facilities in the area.  The schools in the area should also be involved in tourism through arranging school tours


  1. Inputs on transformation


Mr Lwazi Nsele who represented the Mzansi Tourism Transformation Forum raised concerns about the lack of transformation in the tourism sector. The majority of people in the sector are just workers not owners of the tourism plant. The tourism benefits are exaggerated as the reported number is that the tourism sector employs at least 1.5 million job but the ownership remains with the previous beneficiaries of the economy. The government officials should understand the transformation project. The SMMEs are not fully supported as they do not grow and remain “emerging forever”. The government should therefore create opportunities for tourism business development. This should be done through availing seed capital for emerging tourism enterprises and young people to develop sustainable SMMEs and foster job creation through tourism.


  1. Inputs from local business owner


Mr Baloyi, a new restaurant owner in the Howick Falls precinct, decried the state of the precinct. Upon opening his business, the area was thriving with visitors. However, that has changed due to the current state of the area. In the past where about 10 tour operator buses would visit the area that number has dwindled to one bus a day. The restaurant, which offers African cuisine to patrons, employs 12 people. The decreased number of visitors and lack of visibility through signage will have an impact on the business’ ability to retain staff. Local businesses need support from both local government and the police services. He bemoaned the lack of an integrated marketing strategy that incorporates local businesses. The municipality, working with the local Community Tourism Organisation was urged to develop a marketing strategy that will put small businesses on the KwaZulu-Natal map.


  1. Committee deliberations


The Committee deliberated on the inputs made by stakeholders in an attempt to solicit more information and carve the way forward. The Committee appreciated the inputs from the members of the public and the following issues were added:

  • The issue of safety as improved policing was raised by a number of Committee members, with a recommendation to engage the Minister of Police and the Provincial Commissioner of Police in improving visible policing and curbing crime.
  • The provincial government and the municipality were urged to develop an action plan with time frames on how the Municipality will implement the suggested interventions. The plan was to be developed in a month’s time and should be presented to the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.
  • The Chairperson was commended for leading a united Portfolio Committee and putting a political divide aside, and attending to issues of Howick Falls. The Howick matter had turned into a crisis, jeopardising the attributes of Howick as the only city with a waterfall in the CBD. This crisis had resulted in the 75 percent decline in revenue for businesses. Jobs have been lost, and from a business and arrivals point of view, the town had gone backwards.  The Committee noted that the plans for the future were agreeable, however, these plans should be packaged into concrete programmes with timelines to expedite implementation.
  • Some people in the informal settlement at the edge of the Howick Falls are from Lesotho, and this needs to be interrogated against South African laws in relation to benefiting from RDP houses.
  • The Howick Falls should be maintained with improved cleanliness programmes implemented.
  • Transformation should be prioritised in Howick, with programmes to support SMMEs.
  • The UMngeni Municipality should implement a Moral Regeneration Programme to empower local people and influence change of behaviour.
  • The Umngeni Local Municipality should consider leasing unused structures to private businesses to ensure smooth operations and sustainability.
  • Tourism awareness should be conducted to local schools and the Department of Education engaged in packaging school tours to local sites.
  • The xenophobic discrimination should not happen in the hospitality industry, and the hospitality in Howick should prioritise employing more locals than foreign nationals.
  • The tourism industry in Howick should work to eradicate the “us and them” mentality, and all the stakeholders should pull together, especially the municipality, business, and the community.
  • The Mayor should take the process initiated by the Committee forward in bringing all the tourism stakeholders together, and hold regular community meetings. This should be done through establishing a strong IGR structure.
  • There is a need for tapping into the Expanded Public Works Programme to introduce the Tourism Safety Monitors at Howick.
  • The Municipality should include Mpophomeni in all is tourism development programmes to facilitate township and rural tourism.
  • The Municipality in partnership with the District and Provincial Department should develop a Howick Tourism Precinct Development, and present such a plan to Parliament before the end of the financial year.
  • There is an urgent need to erect a protection barrier/railing to protect the communities at the edge of the Howick Falls.
  • The Community Tourism Organisation should prioritise transformation and bring on board the disadvantaged communities.
  • Capacity building programmes should be given to SMMEs to assist them to remove barriers to entry and fare better in their tourism business activities.


  1. Tourism Day Celebrations


The tourism day celebrations were attended by a number of stakeholders from all over South Africa. These included, amongst others, provincial tourism departments, provincial Destination Management Organisations, municipalities, private sector, institutions of higher learning, the Select Committee members, and others.


  1. Word of support by the Chairperson of the Committee


The Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Mahumapelo, provided a word of support at the event. He mentioned that the Portfolio Committee on Tourism did its work in harmony and without conflict across political affiliations. Amongst other things he mentioned that the oversight work of the Committee was to ensure that tourism benefits all the citizens of South Africa. This is done through a reciprocative and non-antagonistic oversight over the Department of Tourism and South African Tourism.

 The first thing that the Committee wants to achieve in the next four years is to ensure that South Africans have jobs and reduce poverty through the tourism industry.  Secondly, the Committee will embark on a programme, working with the Department, to transform the tourism industry. The transformation of the tourism industry will not be a success if the people living in villages, townships, and small towns/dorpies do not see the direct benefits from tourism. Therefore, for transformation to be successful, it must be felt by people in these aforementioned areas. This is important because poverty, inequality, and unemployment is more expressed in villages, townships and small towns. Thirdly, the Committee will ensure that tourism is used towards achieving a non-racial, non-sexist and a prosperous society. That is the society which Nelson Mandela spoke about, based on reconciliation. That reconciliation will not be complete if South Africans, in unison and working together, are not going to make sure that we build a non- racial, non-sexist and prosperous society. Fourthly, the Committee will ensure that all times, it works with the national Minister of Tourism and all MECs from provinces. Nothing should come between the work the Committee and the Executive do because, they at the end of the day they are all one thing. The strategic objective is one, which is the make sure that jobs are created for citizens and eradicating poverty is eradicated, so that South Africans can lead a better life.

The Committee will always reciprocate the work between itself, the Department, and the people. Therefore, the Committee will embark on a campaign to make sure that every village, township and small town throughout South Africa has got a Tourism Oversight Forum. These forums will work with the Portfolio Committee, at the centre of which will be the role of the Committee to make tourism accessible for all.


  1. Address by the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environment Affairs


The MEC for Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal, Hon Nomusa Dube-Ncube, MPL, addressed the gathering. She outlined bold tourism development plans for the province. Amongst these, was the development of the Airport City with hotels, hospitals, and shopping complexes. She took the gathering through a video where she called upon the audience to imagine getting married at the world class airport hotel and then whisked away to a honeymoon in the United Kingdom in seamless flights connected to the hotel; getting medical attention and other medical tourism related procedures and resting at an airport hotel with customised facilities. The MEC also showed the captive audience the audacious King Shaka International Airport future development plans that will boost tourism in KwaZulu-Natal.

The MEC indicated that she had just returned from Spain where the KwaZulu-Natal Province had just been awarded hosting rights for the World Football Summit to be held in Durban in 2020. This will be an international gathering of the most influential professionals in the football industry, such as managers, who will discuss the topics most relevant to the game and generate business opportunities. She mentioned that Durban was chosen from among a many big contenders and global powerhouse cities, which included Hong Kong in China, Buenos Aires in Argentina, and Canada.


  1. Address by the Minister of Tourism


The Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, delivered a key note address to the attendees at the World Tourism Day. In her speech presented hereafter, the Minister indicated that the event was held at a very historic site, the Mandela capture site, which in many ways carries a message that says, no matter how great challenges we face today, we should never lose confidence in humanity’s capacity to overcome those challenges. This monument was erected in honour of the late Former President Nelson Mandela and his efforts to free South Africans from one of the most vicious system humanity has ever witnessed, is a fitting representation of the multi-faceted influences and the nature of a single human being who had an enormous effect on the identity of our nation. Mandela led a collective that made a tremendous contribution in the creation of a new South Africa which now stands as a monument of unity in diversity and a nation alive with possibilities. The Mandela generation has bequeathed on us a great gift which we need to nurture not only for South Africans and future generations but for humanity as a whole. South Africa is a country known for its beauty, wildlife and the warmth of its people. Three days ago, the tapestry and the diversity of our cultures and customs were in full display as we celebrated Heritage Day.


The celebration of our heritage was an occasion for us to show the world that we are proud of our cultures and customs as Africans and that in keeping with the spirit of Ubuntu we have also embraced cultures and customs of the other compatriots within our country. Our tourist attractions as a country can only do so much to attract tourists, however, the people of South Africa need to make a concerted effort to continually increase the levels of hospitality and friendliness, and the general level of service. In the words of our icon Nelson Mandela during his Address at the opening of the Indaba International Tourism Workshop in Durban back in 1995, he said, “…our natural beauty only offers a fitting setting for our country's most valuable asset: its people. Ours is a nation of warm and generous people. Its great variety of culture and heritage, once exploited to divide our people, has been turned by them into a source of strength and richness in every sphere of life. South Africa’s cultural diversity is increasingly… becoming one of our major tourist attractions.” In this connection, we must, all of us, resist the lie that is starting to take root in the public discourse that seeks to suggest that South Africans are Xenophobic, or Afrophobic. The perpetuation of this lie, sometimes through our own media and through the distribution of fake videos of violence against migrants has dealt a significant blow to our country’s brand and our standing in the family of nations.


Since the discovery of gold mining in what is today Johannesburg, African migrants who came to work in the mines settled and made South Africa their permanent home. This migration pattern has continued unabated since then and South Africans have lived peacefully together with other Africans for many years. The lie that South Africans have suddenly developed hatred for other Africans cannot be sustained. We are therefore pleased that President Ramaphosa has taken an extraordinary step of sending envoys to African leaders to reassure them that South Africa remains a home for all Africans.


Our country is beset with the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequalities. Under the weight of these socio-economic challenges our people find themselves in the margins of society scrambling for very limited resources in the most degrading and dehumanising conditions. Undoubtedly, such a situation becomes a breeding ground for social ills that are threatening our stability, peace and security. It is therefore unsurprising that in some instances the scramble for limited resources has been characterised by violent scenes such as we have witnessed recently. It is only by growing our economy in an inclusive way that this race to the bottom can be brought to a halt.


By committing ourselves to the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals we are enjoined by one of its pillars which is the pledge to leave no one behind. We have to ask ourselves the question: How is it that we are going to overcome our triple challenges, achieve inclusivity and ensure that we leave no one behind? More importantly, how are we going to place tourism at the centre of our economy so that we can grow the economy and create jobs?


Tourism has been a pillar of our economy and under the current economic conditions it presents us with the best chance of increasing social inclusion. As we intensify our efforts to grow our tourism sector, and ensure that we live no one behind we need to do the following, amongst other things:


  • We need to adopt a whole of government approach to tourism so that there is consistency in the message that we send to the world at all levels of government.
  • We need to create a tourism infrastructure coordination framework so that government investment in infrastructure at all levels is complementary.
  • We need to crowd-in private sector investments in the tourism sector so that our tourism product offering can be diverse.
  • We need to work closely with communities so that they can take ownership of projects within their localities and ensure that they maximise their benefits and that of the country as whole.
  • We need to work together to transform the sector so that all South Africans can equitably participate in the sector including our disabled compatriots.


This year we are celebrating World Tourism Day under the theme “Tourism and Jobs – A better future for all”. This is in a context in which the world is undergoing the most dramatic change brought about by the technologies that underpin the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As the fourth industrial revolution becomes a way of life, most of the economic sectors will become less and less labour intensive and more people will lose their jobs. Very few sectors will continue to be labour intensive and the tourism sector is one of them. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation has estimated that one job in the core tourism sector creates about one-and-a-half additional or indirect jobs in the tourism-related economy. Overall, it is estimated that tourism accounts for one in ten jobs worldwide. Tourism is one of the sectors that has the highest potential to absorb both skilled and unskilled people ranging from tour guides who can enter the sector without a matric certificate to hotel managers. The only way that we will be able to create jobs in the tourism sector is by increasing the number of tourists in our country both domestic and international.


We must also acknowledge that the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will also have an impact on the tourism sector. We have already witnessed certain job profiles in the hospitality sector, such as front desk jobs in other parts of the world becoming obsolete as machines take over those jobs. It is only a matter of time before this trend takes root in our country but we still believe that the tourism sector will remain labour intensive. Technological platforms have already been created that have fundamentally transformed how tourism products are marketed and traded in the market. Fortunately, some of these platforms have lowered the barriers to entry for small businesses and homeowners who want to turn their homes into income earning assets. These new businesses will only be sustained if the number of tourists increase in our country.


The recent trends have shown that the number of international arrivals to our country has been on the decline. This development poses a great danger to the survival of the South African businesses and job opportunities and ultimately our economy. This decline of tourist arrivals in our country is happening at a time when the number of tourists are increasing globally. This means that tourists are choosing other tourist destinations other than our country. The way we manage our tourism sector, our actions and what we say, needs to take into consideration that tourism is a very competitive sector. If tourists don’t feel welcome in our country, they will go elsewhere. All of us as South Africans need to ask ourselves the question: what is it that we are going to do in our various areas of responsibility to ensure that South Africa remains a destination of choice for tourists?


Amongst other things, we need to do the following:

  • We need to work together to ensure that tourists that come to our country feel safe to enjoy their holiday and take away memorable experiences.
  • We need to ensure that tourists who decide to travel to our country do so with ease and have access to all products across the country.
  • We need to practice sustainable tourism so that we can preserve the environment and the Wildlife.


As we celebrate this day, let’s remember the historic injustices of the past that led to the majority of South Africans not enjoying traveling in their own country. We must ensure that we provide all information about various attractions and destinations so that it’s easy for them to make choices to travel. We must encourage the sector to package their products and take into consideration various household’s disposable income. In this way we will be able to reintroduce South Africans to South Africa. South Africa is a country alive with possibilities. And as South Africans we need to rediscover the hope and optimism that inspired our people to overcome their divisions and come together to create a united nation. In this regard, the Minister indicated that she found it inspiring that a group of South African have started a campaign called #I’m staying. This is a campaign aimed at elevating that which is good about our country and the warmth of its people. She indicated that she had joined them to tell her personal reasons of why she would not leave her country.


The President has given us a very ambitious target of increasing the number of tourist arrivals to 21 million by 2030. We believe that our country has all the necessary tourism elements to achieve this target. South Africa is a great tourist destination, it is in the hands of South Africans to turn it into a destination of choice.


  1. Address by the Mayor of Umngeni Local Municiplaity


The Mayor of Umngeni Municipality delivered a vote of thanks. He appreciated the decision taken by the Minister of Tourism to host the event at Howick. He also thanked the Portfolio Committee for visiting Howick Falls to assist with the revitalisation of this tourism destination. He reiterated the undertaking by the municipality to develop an action plan that will ensure that the Howick Falls and Umngeni Municipality as a whole becomes a thriving tourism destination. He expressed the need for the national government and the province to work with the municipality to ensure that tourism works for all the people of Umngeni. It was indicated that the Midlands Meander is a well-known tourism destination, with a number of hotels. However, there was no transformation in the sector. The industry was then requested to ensure that the sector drives transformation and benefits all the people of Umngeni Local Municipality.


  1. Traditional horse racing – Umtelebhelo


On the 28th September 2019, the programme involved attending the traditional horse racing event called uMtelebhelo. The Umtelebhelo Heritage Cup is a traditional horse racing event that happens annually where all districts from the KZN province as well as neighbouring provinces and countries compete. The event also showcases local fashion designers and artists. The Committee had intended to attend this event to see how it promotes rural tourism and how it fits the new approach of the Committee that prioritises villages, townships and small towns/dorpies. However, the event was delayed and started later than the time provided to the Committee. The Committee was informed that the event would start at 8am. However, when arriving at the venue it was realised the event would start around 12pm, at which time the Committee was flying out of the province.


  1. Committee observations


Having undertaken an oversight visit to Umngeni Municipality in the Umgungundlovu District in KwaZulu-Natal, the Committee made the following observations:


  1. Loss of life and daily exposure to life threatening living


The Committee observed that the part of Howick Falls on the tourist attraction precinct side is safe with regard to steel railing on the viewing deck of the Howick Falls. However, on the other side of the Falls, there is a community living in the squatter settlement without water. As a result, this community uses the water at the edge/mouth of the Howick Falls for washing and other household uses. The Committee observed with serious concern that there is no steel railing as a safety measure preventing people using water at the edge of the Falls from falling to their death. The Committee learned that at least five people had plunged to their death and no action has been taken to provide a protective barrier.  The Committee also noted with condolences that one person had lost a life in the crime that is taking place at Howick Falls precinct. The Committee stated that the sanctity of life should be paramount to all other interventions. The Committee was, however, pleased to learn from the Umngeni Municipality that a settlement had been constructed and communities would be moved to a safe settlement called Ekhayelisha soon. Phase one of the project has been completed and phase two had begun. The risk remains high though whilst the resettlement of the communities is being planned and an urgent action is needed in the interim period to protect life and limb.


  1. Poor maintenance of tourist attractions


The Committee observed that the Howick Falls which was previously a thriving tourist destination in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands is in a perilous state of neglect and disrepair. The infrastructure is crumbling, eight businesses have closed down, and about 60 jobs have been lost. The major cause for 40 percent decline in tourist numbers is the rampant crime, muggings, drunk driving, partying, drinking in public, litter, drug dealers and drug abuse, bad press, broken ablution facilities, and indecent behaviour in public. The areas used to receive at least ten busses a day but now it hardly receives two on daily basis. The issue of Universal Access was also raised as a concern at Howick Falls and this needs to be addressed urgently to cater for disabled tourists.


  1. Decline in turnover


The Committee learned from businesses in the area that the current state of the Howick Falls has resulted in the decline in business activity in the area, which has subsequently caused a decline in turnover. One business owner indicated that a business that was making an estimated R2 million turnover has suffered a loss of a third of its previously recorded bottom line. This has led to about eight businesses to close down and relocate to other places.


  1. Historical appeal for help


The Committee observed that there is a long relentless history of trying to get interventions to prevent tourism decline at Howick Falls. These requests for interventions did not receive the necessary attention. The residents of Howick indicated that some of these included:

  • Submission of a 755 signature petition to revitalise the Howick Falls in January 2018;
  • submission to the municipality about businesses suffering and subsequent job losses;
  • business owners’ engagement with the municipality in December 2018 and handing over of a memorandum requesting that the issue at the Falls be addressed;
  • lobbying of the Howick Umngeni Community Tourism Organisation (HUCTO) and other tourism organisations to get their grants-in-aid reinstated;
  • sensitising the municipal Manager about the infringement of the bylaw (bylaw 87), like drinking in public, littering and urinating in public;
  • lobbying the municipality to let the vacant municipal property Bush Golf to interested businesses;
  • general maintenance such as cutting grass so that children can play without fear and any risk;
  • conducting community clean up campaigns without the help of the municipality; and
  • issuing press statements highlighting the plight of the area.


The Committee, observed that some of the issues, including bylaws on the noise level and what may be considered as public indecency arises from the lack of dedicated amenities such as appropriate restaurants and pubs in the area. The Committee also identified the need to scrutinise some of the bylaws as they may be unconstitutional and restrict community participation in local recreation activities.


  1. Gorge Walk Restaurant


The Committee observed with concern that the building at the entrance of the Howick Falls Gorge Walk was vandalised and out of business. The Howick Umngeni Community Tourism Organisation (HUCTO previously spent at least R100 000.00 to renovate the building but it was later vandalised. This Gorge Walk Restaurant used to be a thriving restaurant which attracted a number of tourists in the area. The strategic positioning of the restaurant made it one of the iconic and easily identifiable attributes of the Howick Falls precinct. The building is owned by the municipality and has been left in a serious state of disrepair. It was noted that two non-governmental organisations had expressed interest in operating the restaurant, but were not granted the rights by the municipality. The building is currently used by homeless people as a make-shift shelter. The Committee noted that the Umngeni Municipality leased the building to a local SMME in 2015 before but the operator was unable to sustain the operations. The Committee viewed this failure by the operator to manage the place due to lack of support by the municipality.  The Municipality indicated that a new operator would be appointed by the end of October 2019. The Committee urged the municipality to provide maximum support to whoever will be appointed to ensure that the operations are sustainable and the business becomes profitable. The municipality indicated that they had previously given the restaurant to two volunteers who failed to operate it, the Committee saw this as a bad business model that was used by the municipality.


  1. Urgent need to uplift security


The Committee identified an urgent need to provide security in the Howick Falls precinct. The Committee was concerned about the reports on rampant crime and lawlessness. It was noted with concern that the South African Police Services in the area knows about the criminal activities at the Falls but no one has been arrested. The Committee noted with concern that the The Howick Umngeni Community Tourism Organisation (HUCTO) had left the operations of the Tourist Information Office due to safety concerns.


  1. Howick Tourism Information Centre


The Committee observed that the Howick Visitor Information Centre (VIC) is operating below its capacity. The Office used to be operated by HUCTO but that has since changed since Umngeni Municipality cut the grant-in-aid and the safety issues escalated. The Municipality has since deployed an official who is manning the VIC, and the Office is operational five days and eight hours a week, but this is not at a full capacity. Part of the work of HUCTO was to collect statistics from visitors, some of the retrenched staff were responsible for that purposes. HUCTO cannot provide such a service any longer due to decreased capacity. The six people who were permanently employed by HUCTO have lost their jobs due to cumulative effect of challenges at Howick.


  1. Poor communication between Umngeni Municipality and organised tourism businesses


The Committee observed the precarious working relationship between the HUCTO and Umngeni Municipality. The municipality had given the Howick Visitor Information Centre to be operated by HUCTO, but HUCTO abandoned the Office due to safety concerns. The Municipality had also reduced the grant funding to HUCTO and this reduced funds that could be used by the organisation to sustain its operations. The Committee also noticed poor communication between the municipality and HUCTO and a blame game between the two organisations. In the meeting with the presence of the two organisations, the Committee learned that there were progressive initiatives undertaken by the municipality, as the Mayor outlined interventions such the proposed mounting of CCV cameras throughout the Howick Precinct to monitor the Falls 24/7, negotiations with SAPS for visible policing, five wardens already employed to patrol the area. However, these brilliant interventions were not communicated to stakeholders.


  1. Lack of transformation


The Committee noticed the lack of transformation in the tourism fraternity in Howick. The Committee was of the view that HUCTO needs to be transformed and support all the citizens of Howick. A sentiment was also raised that the job opportunities created by the tourism sector should benefit the locals more than the foreign nationals. The stands for informal traders were also dilapidated and falling apart. The Municipality was urged to deal urgently with this matter as it affected mainly the Black traders in the area.


8.10      Unrealised potential for Mpophomeni Tourism


The Committee noted that there is another vibrant tourism organisation representing township and rural tourism in Mpophomeni under the stewardship of Zulu Mpophomeni Experience. The Committee learned from the Chairperson of Zulu Mpophomeni outlined challenges such as:

8.10.1   Mpophomeni is experiencing a decline in tourism numbers and general tourism activity as a consequence of the challenges experienced at Howick Falls. The Howick Falls is a major attraction in the area and any negative activities at Howick Falls have undesirable consequences for Mpophomeni as well.

8.10.2   The Tourism Information centre is incomplete as there as some issues with facilities such as the amphitheatre, computers, craft centre and paving of the premises still outstanding.

8.10.3   The lack of operating funds as the Municipality cut funding, culminating in the retrenchment of some employees and the centre being short staffed.

8.10.4   The centre has no security which makes the precinct unsafe and vulnerable to criminal activities. The safety situation is exacerbated by the thatched roofing of the building, which need extra care and security measures. The volunteers from the community help with providing security to prevent theft and vandalism, but these are not trained security personnel.

8.10.5   The crafters, traditional dance entertainers, traditional healers (sangomas), and other tourism service providers at Mpophomeni need training and reskilling in relation to tailor making their products and customising them to provide high quality tourism products.

8.10.6   The Mpophomeni Information Centre is located in a strategic position en route to Southern Drakensberg and has a huge potential if adequately assisted by the relevant government structures.


9.         Recommendations

The Minister of Tourism is requested to provide feedback to the Committee on the recommendations by no later than 31 March 2020. It is recommended that the Minister of Tourism engages the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal to engage Umngeni Local Municipality to:

9.1        Develop the Howick Falls Precinct Development Plan, and provide the feedback report on the execution of the Plan, and report to Parliament on quarterly basis.

9.2        Provide monthly progress reports to all affected tourism stakeholders, including Parliament.

9.3        Develop the Transformation Oversight Intensification Action Plan.

9.4        Provide feedback on the plan to declare Howick Falls as National Heritage Site.   

9.5        Identify all pieces of Legislation that prohibit / hinder growth of tourism businesses in South Africa.

9.6        Avail RDP houses for the resettlement of the informal community currently residing in the Howick Falls precinct.

9.7        Provide seed capital for development of tourism in Villages, Townships and Small Towns (dorpies).

9.8.       Set aside a budget of R5 million for the Gorge Walk Restaurant and make qualification criteria easy for local participation.

9.9        Ensure that the Municipality makes the Gorge Walk Restaurant a viable entrepreneurial venture based on a sound business model, based on a Public Private Partnership model instead of a volunteer model, and provide support and assistance to the appointed business operator for the Gorge Walk Restaurant to ensure sustainability.

9.10      Mobilise volunteers to clean the Howick Falls precinct.

9.11      Interact with the Department of Basic Education to develop a schedule for schools tours to Howick Falls to boost domestic tourism and improve statistics.

9.12      Establish Howick Non-racialism Action Plan for tourism growth and development for the benefit of all stakeholders.

9.13      Establish an Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) forum to meet quarterly to discuss tourism issues and development.

9.14      Erect an interim steel barrier on the edge of the Howick Falls to protect the life and limb of vulnerable communities from falling in the Falls (while resettlement programme is still under way).

9.16      Engage the Provincial Police Commissioner to provide visible policing in the Howick Falls precinct whilst planning a comprehensive tourist safety strategy (Roll-out of tourism safety initiatives).

9.17      Provide names of the Villages, Townships and Small Towns (Dorpies) available in KwaZulu-Natal Province to get information such as the digital footprint of history of rural areas.

9.18      Ensure that the hospitality industry prioritises South Africans in the tourism job opportunities.

9.19      Deploy the EPWP recruits as Tourist Safety Monitors.

9.20      Improve the Mpophomeni Tourism Centre by completing the construction of the amphitheatre, providing office equipment, and paving.

9.21      Provide proper signage for the Mpophomeni Tourism Centre.

9.22      Engage the Department of Public Works to avail the adjacent land to the Mpophomeni Tourism Centre for the establishment of the Agripark with a weekly farmers’ market and related activities.

9.23      Develop a long-term Mpophomeni Tourism Business Plan.

9.24      Provide access control measures at the Howick Falls precinct gate to monitor access to the attraction site.

9.25      Appoint a full-time tourist guide who will provide site guiding at the Howick Falls precinct.

9.26      Develop proper and dedicated recreational facilities such as a circuit for spinning cars or drifting to take away such activities from the Howick Falls precinct.

9.27      Provide capacity building/ training programmes for Mpophomeni tourism service providers to modernise their businesses in order to provide high quality tourism products.


  1. Conclusion


The Committee was pleased with its decision to conduct an oversight work at Howick given the number of issues that were observed on the ground.  The oversight visit assisted with bringing together multiple stakeholders that are critical in driving tourism growth in the area.  The Committee was also impressed by the positive response received from the Umngeni Municipality, especially the Mayor, with regard to proposed solutions to the identified programme. The Committee urges the Minister of Tourism to urgently contact the MEC responsible for tourism in KwaZulu-Natal and the Mayor of Umngeni Municipality to expedite implementation.

The Committee was also satisfied with the Tourism Month celebrations and was pleased with the participation of various stakeholders in the event.


Report to be considered.



No related documents