R2.1bn budget to ensure 'tourism helps the people of SA rise'

2017-05-23 15:53 - Kavitha Pillay
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Cape Town - Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa, who spoke in parliament on Tuesday 23 May during the annual Tourism Budget Speech, says that the Department of Tourism plans on using its budget of R2.1 billion “to ensure that as tourism rises, the people of South Africa rise with it”.

“Marketing takes the largest component of this budget at 53% or R1.1 billion. The remaining R1 billion is largely distributed amongst tourism incentives, expand public works programme (including skills development), destination development and enterprise development,” says Xasa.

Xasa says that the aim is to drive government imperatives, including contribution to job creation and radical economic transformation.

SEE: #WeDoTourism: CEO of SA Tourism shares insight on boosting tourism

South Africa recorded 13% growth in the international tourist arrivals in the past year. Xasa says that the tourism sector provides more opportunities and has lower barriers to entry.

“Tourism is a significant and critical sector in our economy as it contributes positively to the trade balance through foreign exchange receipts, sustains 700 000 direct jobs and is performing stronger than the other 5 growth sectors,” says Xasa, adding that globally, “we recorded our 7th year of sustained growth despite the economic slow-down”.

“The sector is already contributing to our economy by supporting over 1.5 million jobs in total and bringing in about 9% to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

  

“Growth in tourism means that the prospects for growing and transforming our economy are significantly enhanced, not only for the tourism sector but for the entire value chain that is supported by tourism.

“This presents a greater opportunity for integration with other 9 point plan sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and transport amongst others. We recognise this potential and are working with our partners to maximise the social and economic benefits of tourism beyond just the sector," she says.

Xasa says that we need to “work together towards development and promotion of tourism that is economically beneficial, environmentally friendly, socially equitable and culturally responsive”.

SEE: EXCLUSIVE: Minister of Tourism, Tokozile Xasa shares her plans to maximise domestic tourism

“We have revised our 2020 strategy after a review in 2015. The new strategy which is out for public comments has its foundation on inclusive and sustainable tourism growth. Through National Tourism Sector Strategy (the NTSS), we aim to achieve over 200% growth in our direct contribution to the 2015 GDP figure of R118 billion to R302 Billion in 2026.

“The indirect contribution to GDP will be just under a trillion rands at R941 billion from the 2015 figure of R375 billion. We will also add 300 000 more jobs to bring direct employment to 1 million from the 2015 figure of 700 000. This will bring the indirect employment to tourism figures to about 2,26 million,” Xasa says.

Through the implementation of the Working for Tourism programme the department aims to create 3 347 full time equivalent jobs through infrastructure and skills development programmes.

Addressing media at a briefing before the 2017 Tourism Budget Speech are (from left) Director-General Victor Tharage, Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa, Deputy Minister of Tourism Elizabeth Thabethe and CEO of SA Tourism Sisa Ntshona. (Photo: Kavitha Pillay).

“Based on our experiences, we have put in place systems and capacity for effective implementation and future commercial sustainability of our product based expanded public works projects. We have also adopted a zero-tolerance stance on poor performance by contractors with consequence management in such cases,” says Xasa.

“We will also pursue partnerships with other government institutions to scale up the intake of our skills development programmes. This includes but is not limited to working with CATHSETA and Department of Labour to increase the numbers of trainees in areas such as chefs, assistant chefs, specialised guides, events coordinators and travels services consultants.”

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The Department of Tourism has also entered into a partnership with the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) to establish a Transformation Fund.

“A combination of grant funding and debt financing will be used to drive sector transformation and unlock capital investment in tourism. The fund is currently capitalised to an amount of R120 million with the aim of building it to R360 million in the medium term,” says the Minister.

Xasa adds “We will ensure that tourism benefits communities directly, especially those in our rural areas, where the potential to develop cultural tourism products is great.”

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