Government wants to push transformation for tourism in South Africa’s ‘small dorpies’

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Tourism has asked for public submissions on ways to push for transformation in the tourism sector.

In a statement on Monday (29 June), the committee noted that the pace of transformation in the tourism sector in South Africa is ‘too pedestrian’ and that tourism development is confined to the Johannesburg-Durban-Cape Town ‘Golden Triangle’, with pockets of excellence in selected areas in other provinces.

This has prompted the committee to adopt an oversight approach that seeks to promote tourism development in the country’s villages, townships and small dorpies (VTSDs), it said.

“To achieve this, the committee has adopted a working philosophy based on the 3Rs, namely, “rebranding, repositioning and renewal” of the tourism sector in the South African economy.

“In pursuing this end, the committee seeks to work with all segments and structures of civil society in an unco-optable, non-antagonistic, cooperative and reciprocative oversight approach.”

Statistics provided by the committee shows that:

  • Ownership of tourism businesses by black South Africans ranges from the lowest of 25% in the Western Cape, to 56% in Limpopo.
  • Management control ranges from 13% in the Western Cape, to 29% in Limpopo.
  • Skills development ranges from 10% in the Eastern Cape, to 42% in KwaZulu-Natal.

These figures indicate that more work still needs to be done to transform the tourism sector, the committee said.

“The committee would therefore like to invite members of civil society, in all formations, to make submissions on the ways and strategies to expedite transformation in the tourism sector in South Africa.

“The information is intended to engage the government on critical success factors needed to expedite transformation. This will help the committee to hold government accountable on tourism transformation matters raised by the citizens.”

The committee said that the Covid-19 pandemic has also shown the importance of growing domestic tourism as the international markets have proved to be volatile, fluid, and susceptible to global shocks such as diseases, regional conflicts and currency fluctuations.

Domestic tourism, therefore, provides opportunities for transformation as we develop and market new and tailor-made domestic experiences and packages, it said.

The committee said it will report back annually on the progress made on the transformation agenda in South Africa.

This will be done through an Annual Parliamentary Tourism Transformation Summit hosted by the committee every September, it said.

Coronavirus should be used to strengthen BEE

President Cyril Ramaphosa has also indicated that South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) regulations should be ‘enhanced’ as part of a push to build a more inclusive economy in the wake of the country’s coronavirus crisis.

In a virtual parliamentary briefing on 18 June, Ramaphosa was asked by the Freedom Front Plus’ Pieter Groenewald how he plans to use the ‘golden opportunity’ of the coronavirus to restructure the economy.

“Don’t you think this a golden opportunity to get rid of BEE, get rid of affirmative action. You’ve asked the youth to get involved in building South Africa, does that include all of the youth?” Groenewald said.

In response, the president noted that while the coronavirus provides an opportunity to restructure parts of the economy, other measures need to remain and place and be strengthened  – including Black Economic Empowerment (BEE).

“The Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment policy thrust of this government, if anything, needs to be enhanced,” he said.

“We need to ensure that (black South Africans) who were – under apartheid and colonial rule – excluded from playing an important role in the economy of their own country, be given their rightful position of playing an important role in the economy of their country. This is something that has to be done without any fail.”

Ramaphosa added that South African cannot continue to have an economy that excludes the majority of the people and believe that it can still grow the economy.

“Our economy is damaged because it is not utilising all of its resources. It’s like we have a vehicle with 12 cylinders but we have forever and a day been operating on four cylinders.”

Ramaphosa said that the only way this can be fixed is by bringing black South Africans into the mainstream of the economy.

Read: These are the official advanced level 3 lockdown changes for South Africa – including unusual rules for sit-down restaurants

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Government wants to push transformation for tourism in South Africa’s ‘small dorpies’