Budget Vote 34 - Tourism

By Ms Connie Zikalala MP

   

National Assembly:  4th May 2010

 

Honourable Speaker,

 

Tourism in South Africa has demonstrated significant growth since 1994 and is fast becoming a key component of the country's economy. The tourism industry has perhaps a greater potential than any other single industry, both directly and indirectly via its multiplier effects, to support economic growth and job creation.

 

With the soccer World Cup around the corner the Department of Tourism has the daunting task of ensuring that the tourism industry plays its role in hosting a successful event.

 

Every step must be taken to ensure that the department is on course to meet its many targets in preparation for the influx of visitors expected for the 2010 World Cup. We must make the most of this wonderful opportunity and ensure that the rest of the world realises what a beautiful and unique country South Africa is. This is a great opportunity for the tourism sector to grow in leaps and bounds for many years to come to turn our country into a world tourist hub.

 

We, in the IFP, believe that our tourism sector can grow at a higher rate and in future contribute even more to our economic growth and development and have a positive impact on a much broader spectrum of people than is currently the case, if certain fundamentals are dealt with more vigorously.

 

And here, I refer to the Hardy Annual of crime. Whilst we may like to believe that crime does not deter more tourists from visiting our country, the reality is that it does. We must not bury our heads in the sand like ostriches and believe that nothing is going wrong around us. We must act decisively to provide comfort to tourists.

 

While we do congratulate the relevant people and organisations for the good work that has been done in reaching these targets and milestones, we are still concerned that the benefits and opportunities that stem from this growth are not more broad based and shared by more South Africans, especially those from rural areas.

 

The concerns and anxieties of the previously neglected groups need to be understood and adequately addressed in building a successful tourism industry in South Africa. There is a perception that tourism refers only to people travelling around and staying in hotels. The wider opportunities offered by tourism are not appreciated.

 

There is no doubt tourism could contribute to community upliftment and help local communities to escape from poverty. The Department should therefore initiate or provide support to income generating projects such as those based on handcrafted materials.

 

In South Africa there are few working models using community projects based on handcrafts such the Imbali Handcraft in KwaZulu-Natal which offers a form of income for otherwise unemployed Zulu women. However these kinds of projects need to be replicated to all parts of the country especially to the remote and marginalized communities.  

 

This department could, and should, play a bigger role in the development of the rural areas of our country through investment in, and the promotion of, tourism and tourist related activities in these areas. I believe that the unique and truly South African experiences that these areas have to offer will have great appeal to international tourists and be a boost to the development of these communities. 

 

The Department needs to increase job and entrepreneurial opportunities especially to empower disadvantage communities and groups. We should intensify tourism development by identifying niche tourism products and through further developing rural tourism. 

 

The National Business Initiative and South African Tourism should play a key role in financing these kinds of projects as well as improving tourism infrastructure.

 

As I mentioned earlier, this department has achieved much but there is still much more that needs to be done, and many obstacles and constraints to overcome, before it fulfils its mandate to lead tourism in the interest of sustainable development, and to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of all South Africans.

 

The IFP supports this budget vote.

 

I thank you.

 

Contact: Mrs Connie Zikalala MP, 083 282 8384.