Tourism Budget Vote Speech delivered by the Deputy Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa at the National Assembly, Cape Town
3 May 2012
The international arena in which we operate in harbours countless challenges which in various ways constitutes threats but also opportunities for the creation of a conducive environment to grow and develop tourism in South Africa. Nature’s unpredictable changes such as tsunami and volcanic ash clouds have in a graphic way demonstrated how the tourism sector can be vulnerable to these phenomena.
The persistent effects of the global financial crisis are dissipating far too slowly and this, with few exceptions, impacts negatively on tourist arrivals from our traditional source markets, particularly from Europe. Fortunately we in South Africa have benefitted from the very positive branding and reputational spinoffs from the successful hosting of the FIFA 2010 World Cup.
The implementation of the first ever National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTSS), entailed the setting up of delivery mechanisms including monitoring and evaluation framework, allocation of roles and responsibilities, and support for integration of the NTSS at provincial and local government. 2012/13 will see the first annual report on the NTSS implementation.
Local Government Capacitation programme
The success of all our strategies depends on the capacity to implement. In this regard, local government was identified as the most critical link in the delivery chain for growth and development of tourism.
In recognition of its role, the department developed a Local Government Tourism Capacitation programme, which aims to transfer the necessary skills to effectively support tourism planning and management at officials’ level across municipalities, thereby preventing serial job hopping across the municipalities with limited capacity. It will create awareness on tourism for policy makers to promote tourism friendly policies including municipal by-laws.
Four critical frameworks
With Cabinet approval of the National Tourism Sector Strategy (NTTS) in March 2011, the department is focused on the development of plans to effect and support its implementation. These include the development of critical sector-wide frameworks such as the crisis management framework, Information management framework, service excellence framework and Minimum Standards for Responsible Tourism.
A. Crisis Management Framework
The recent floods that affected parts of Limpopo and Mpumalanga province, particularly the iconic Kruger National Park, have demonstrated the vulnerability of our sector to natural disasters.
The department has put in place a crisis management framework which will enable the sector (working together with disaster management authorities) to effectively respond to such incidents so as to minimise the impact and speedup recovery in the affected areas.
B. Information Management
The department has developed a National Visitor Information Framework (NVIF), which provides for uniformity and standardisation across the information centres with regards to branding, operating hours, classification (e.g. government owned, private, gateways) etc. During the 2012/13 financial year, we will establish two National Tourism Information Gateways, one at OR Tambo International and the other at the Beitbridge border post.
These information gateways will serve as 1-stop shops for tourism information for visitors on arrival and will provide information about the entire country and not just their point of location. We will also establish a common brand for the Visitor Information Centres (VIC’s) across the country.
The National Tourism Database is one of the most important sources of information for consumers, investors, policy makers, operators etc. Our understanding is that it is in the best interest of the entire sector to continuously maintain the integrity of our database. We would like commend the industry in their cooperation in our continuous efforts to maintain the database and trust that such cooperation will continue into the future as we collectively manage this asset. It is for this reason that I am convinced that the sector deserves a light regulatory approach in this regard.
C. Responsible Tourism
The gazetting of the National Minimum Standards for Responsible Tourism (NMSRT) has provided clarity of expectation on how the tourism sector can become responsible. During the 2012/13 financial year, the department will work on an incentive framework to recognise good corporate citizenship.
D. Universal Accessibility
During the 2011/12 financial year, the Universal Accessibility (UA) Declaration was adopted by the sector. In the coming financial year, we will focus our efforts on ascertaining the state of Universal Access in the country and establishing frameworks for an UA compliant town or city.
The service excellence requirements, the first of its kind, developed through the South African Bureau of Standards as a national set of standards, together with the service excellence campaign were recently launched. The National Tourism Service Excellence Strategy was approved by the National Department of Tourism (NDT) management in April 2010.
The strategy comprises of five pillars, namely: Research and Information; Up skilling Service Delivery; Public Awareness; Measuring and Monitoring Service Standards; and Consumer Feedback Systems.
The aim of the five-pillared approach is to gradually introduce a service-orientated culture and to maintain it through various interventions in collaboration with the various institutions within the sector. The requirements are also aimed at improving and maintaining service levels at all service touch points in the tourism value chain. They are also aimed at guiding the sector to achieve the National Tourism Sector Strategy’s objective of positioning South Africa as one of the top 20 global tourism destinations.
Skills development and job creation
A. Professionalisation of Tourist Guides
Tourist guides are amongst the first and last contact persons for tourists. All 11 200 of our tourist guides are brand ambassadors and proudly wear their badge to serve the country with distinction. The National Registrar of tourist guides must work with the tourist guiding fraternity to restore the dignity of this important profession.
We also recognise that tourist guiding is an ideal entry point into the sector particularly for previously disadvantaged groups hence will be pursuing a developmental approach to law enforcement and local community participation, particularly in areas that are rich with natural, cultural and historical resources.
We shall also be creating awareness amongst consumers, product owners and aspirant tourist guides to ensure that there is compliance with the law. Illegal guiding is not only a crime, but could also destroy our brand and it must be exposed and punished accordingly.
B. National Tourism Careers Expo (NTCE)
The third National Careers Expo was very successfully hosted in Durban during September 2011 with a record attendance of more than 19 000 attendees. This programme was initiated in 2008, also as a response to the gaps identified in the 2007 Tourism Skills Audit. This is a forum where young people from high schools, Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges and universities are exposed to existing professional and career opportunities that exist within the tourism sphere.
This intervention is also prudent in exposing the tourism industry to the host of skills that exist amongst young people of this country that the industry could harness and benefit from. The department has since facilitated that this becomes an annual event, where interested and affected youth are exposed to industry opportunities. This year the NTCE will be held in East London in the Eastern Cape from 28 to 30 September.
We are confident this sector identified as one of the key priority sectors of our economy, is ready to contribute to the development of an inclusive and transformed economy. The decision taken is that Transformation as one of the key determinants of Economic Development and Growth in the sector will be incorporated into the amended bill ensuring the macroeconomic policies of our country.
I take this opportunity to thank the Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk for his insight and leadership of the department. My gratitude also goes to the Director-General Amb Kingsley Makhubela and the management team and staff in the department for your hard-work and dedication. To Mr Thulani Nzima CEO of South African Tourism (SAT) and his team, your efforts in marketing and promoting the country are noticeable.
Let me also give thumbs up to the Tourism industry players for your contribution towards making Mzansi a tourist destination of choice, keep up the good work. My final word of thanks is to the Chairperson and the members of the portfolio committee for your commitment and cooperation.
I thank you!
Issued by: Department of Tourism
3 May 2012
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