18 May 2021
Honourable KP Sithole
Honourable Members, the Covid-19 pandemic has not left South Africa and the third wave is, according to reports, marching towards us as expected. When government announced it would roll out the vaccine, we continued to place false hope in their resolve to provide us with efficient and professional services. However, it seems that the only thing the ruling party does well is write letters of suspension to one another and when they suspended the vaccine roll-out, our hopes of opening up tourism fell through.
Tourism in South Africa must protect our cultural heritage and also encourage tourism that is world-class, so as to continuously bring visitors to our country with varying areas of interest.
We accept that the demands of Covid-19 force us to cautiously allow visitors to our land but the industry is suffering, with few to no tourists. Big tourist attractions that would usually bring in the majority of international visitors are seeing an adverse change to their business operations, due to the lack of progress in securing our nation against Covid-19.
There is a huge knock-on effect with each and every individual who loses a job and then can no longer contribute to a sustainable household income.
The IFP is under no illusions as to the so-called “grand plans” for a doomed turnaround strategy that the ruling party will be lamenting for the next 10 years. Good decisions and actions are required now for this sector to avoid further declines in revenue and sustainability.
This Department must start at grassroots level and provide sufficient business support through training to municipal officials, to encourage and stimulate the local communities. The Budget talks of supporting supply chains, yet those very start-ups and transformative companies that offer supply chains to rural areas have been under threat since last year.
The IFP believes that certain measures should be taken to encourage more representative ownership of the tourism industry at the micro level. In particular, innovative partnerships with communities (both urban and rural) must be encouraged, and in certain instances, be required.
Not so long ago, tourism contributed about R272 billion to our economy each year but now we are watching this kind of revenue disappear. Given this dwindling revenue, the IFP supports the Committee’s call to prioritise the Villages, Townships and Small Dorpies (VTSDs).
The IFP proposes the targeted supply of side measures, especially for the enhancement of Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in the industry. Tax incentives, access to loan finance, deregulation and other incentives may play a significant role in stimulating new enterprises. At the very least, the IFP believes that tourism enterprises should be given the same status as manufacturing enterprises.
Finally, the Department needs to work on a plan for better communication and marketing of rural tourism. The neglect of rural tourism is a hindrance to our economy, as there is a large market that remains untapped. Rural tourism needs to be at the top of the agenda, especially when promoting local travel.
The IFP very cautiously supports the Budget.
I thank you.
Hon. KP Sithole, IFP MP
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