Chairperson, I would like to thank all hon members for their contributions. There were three themes that ran through most of the contributions.
The first was the issue of the potential of the tourism industry to create jobs and to contribute towards economic growth. The second issue was airlifts, which was mentioned by quite a number of members. The third was our reputation as a value-for-money destination and the price of our products. I will respond to those issues and also refer to some of the hon members individually.
On the issue of our industry's potential as a job creator and its contribution to economic growth, some numbers have been bandied about in the House, but just think of the following: In 1950, globally, there were only 25 million international arrivals.
In 2008, 58 years later, there were 880 million. From 2008 to 2020, that 880 million will grow to 1,6 billion, which will almost be double. What took 58 years will now just take 12 years.
Either we in South Africa are part of that or it will pass us by. We have to position ourselves to be part of that. We have to open up and ensure air access. We should make it a point that there are as many airlines flying here as possible, bringing as many people as possible.
I am also convinced - on the basis of the historical factors that the hon member Adams mentioned - that we should also convince our own people that they should be tourists in their own country. Not only will they enjoy it, but they will also contribute to economic growth.
This industry worldwide is already bigger than the banking industry and many other prominent industries. In South Africa we have started realising the huge potential that is locked up in this industry.
On the issue of airlift, what we have done as Cabinet is that in 2006 we adopted the so-called airlift strategy. It was basically an approach to phase in liberalisation, from where we had a total overprotection of our national airline and kicked other airlines out, to put it bluntly, to slowly open up airlift to South Africa. This would ensure that our own airlines start adapting and could compete in a more competitive way, and allow other airlines in.
That changed our definition of "national interests". In the past, "national interests" for us meant we had to protect our own national airlines at all costs - as many other airlines who don't understand the new game are still doing. We protect our own airlines, but force them to adapt, so that we get people here who will contribute to our economic growth.
At the moment we have just more than 50 national airlines flying here. Internationally, we are doing much better. We are much better connected. Later this year, our national airline will start flying directly to Beijing for the first time. We are already flying directly from Johannesburg to Hong Kong. That will start opening up the very important new Chinese market for us.
It is on the domestic front where I think there is a concern. If we look at certain other routes, Cape Town to Johannesburg and Johannesburg to Durban, the price of tickets has actually dropped over the past few years. It is now possible to fly from Johannesburg to Cape Town and Johannesburg to Durban for R600 to R700 in the cheaper category flights.
This was not possible about three to four years ago. On some of the other routes like Cape Town-Kimberley-Upington, it is sometimes more expensive than flying from Cape Town to London or Johannesburg to London.
I have heard what the hon member Sinclair said, but I don't think it is an issue of where the hubs are, because the hub-and-spoke model is here to stay. That is the successful model according to which airlines govern themselves the world over. This is because it cuts down on overheads as it allows more competition on those routes.
In my view that is something that the regulator should look at and we are continually discussing it with them. We believe that the space should be opened up for more competition and that it will start driving down the prices.
The third issue was that of our reputation as a value-for-money destination. We have never marketed ourselves as a cheap destination. We have always said that we offer value for money. We are not expensive, but we give tourists value for their money.
It is correct - and there have been signs that we also became aware of - that some of the products on the market started to price themselves at a level which in our view was difficult to defend.
There are a few options for government. Either we can say that we are in favour of price capping or that these are the guidelines. All countries that experimented with either price capping or guidelines from government for products in the private sector in the tourism industry have burnt their fingers. The market should determine the price of products.
Therefore we have started to engage the industry. I must say that I have to commend the industry for taking the lead themselves and saying that they needed to do something. If hon members go to hotels in Cape Town, they will see what has happened to prices of hotel rooms over the last six months. There is clearly an adjustment in the market. The market is responding to that perception or to the reality that some products are too expensive.
I would like to thank the hon member Gamede, the chairperson of the Select Committee on Tourism, for his contribution. Apart from other issues, he mentioned two important ones that I would like to respond to. The one is that of the new conventions bureau and the fact that although we have always been a leisure destination, we understand that there are new subsectors that we should develop. The hon member referred to conventions and business-incentive-meetings tourism. The role of that conventions bureau will be vital. Some of the other hon members also mentioned this. It will have to co-ordinate our bids, internationally, for major events. We have actually lost out on major events to be held in this country because Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg undermine each other.
They all bid for the same event. In trying to be successful, they always told the decision-makers, "You know, we are actually better than the other cities for the following reasons ...". As a country, we should tell ourselves that there is a national interest.
There are some things that we should sort out at home. We should bid as a country, supporting the city that we think is the best suited to host a specific event. It might be Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, or whichever one. That is one of the most important functions of the new conventions bureau.
The hon member also mentioned the issue of the provinces and he mentioned some examples. I think the hon MEC Williams referred to the Northern Cape and what they were doing. I must commend them. They understand that in certain areas they cannot compete with the Western Cape, Mpumalanga or Limpopo and that they have to develop products that are unique to the Northern Cape.
That is why they focus on adventure tourism. The MEC also mentioned some of the examples. It is important that provinces should ask themselves what is unique to them or to their municipalities, and what would make them and the areas they represent more competitive.
I must commend the hon member Abrahams. She made a very good contribution, apart from the first 30 seconds! [Laughter.] Let me respond to those first 30 seconds, because in that there was a lesson. I have heard all the members listening to members of other parties.
To say that the Western Cape won the competition because the DA is governing, is false. [Applause.] There are many competitions. Sometimes Durban and other municipalities like Overberg District Municipality win them. It is good for all of us. There are some things in politics that unite us - foreign direct investment, protection of human rights, the tourism potential of the country and how we protect our people. Later on you will be debating the Police budget. Those are issues where you shouldn't say the ANC, DA or Cope did this or that, but rather that South Africa did it.
Tourism is like that. When we go to international events, I don't go there and tell the buyers that Cape Town is nice, but that they should rather buy into KwaZulu-Natal because the ANC is governing there. No, I go there and market the country.
As the ANC we feel very strongly about that responsibility. We fight our campaigns out there and try to convince people to vote for us - all of us do that. There will be a winner and those that might not win on a particular day. Whoever is in government should act as a government. We in the ANC understand that very well. If we were also doing the same thing, we would come to the Western Cape and tell them that when it comes to social grants, we would like to know who belongs to the ANC or the DA. We can never do that - never ever.
We can never say we are not going to give money to a certain school because it is probably in a DA area. We can never do that. As government, and especially as members of this House, we should realise that sometimes it is legitimate to debate a matter as a party and that on other issues we should not bring in party politics. We should work together for the sake of the country and ensure that we are successful.
The hon member Von Brandis actually put it very well. I thought maybe it was only Cope which had two parties in the party, but I am not quite sure anymore. [Laughter.] He put it very well when he said that we should align our efforts.
Therefore, next month I want to be able to say to the MEC in the Western Cape, as I do with the MEC in KwaZulu-Natal - and the mayors - that I think we should invest in the tourism potential of their area. We should do so because we know that when the people who will benefit are poor, it doesn't matter if they are ANC, DA or Cope and so on. This is because when poverty enters their front door, it is our humanity that is much more important than the card we are carrying. Let us sometimes debate the party issues, but when we come to others, let's do what is honourable and proper.
The hon member referred to the chef's programme. Let me just say that 800 young people across all provinces are being trained. She specifically asked about the Western Cape. About 180 young people are being trained. It has been rolled out to all provinces and will cost us R30 million. People should have matric and be unemployed to be able to apply for that project.
I just wanted to go back to the hon Gamede, who asked a question relating to business tourism. Over the next five years we have already secured 200 conferences. This translates into 300 000 delegates that will come here and a potential economic impact of R1,6 billion. That is sizeable. It is already a good first step, but we can do better than that.
On the issue of airlift, I will only say something about the low-cost airlines and products. Members of the committee should actually look at this issue and invite some of the people in the industry to come and brief them. We must ensure that it becomes more and more affordable for all our people.
The low-cost airlines brought about the revolution in this country in terms of airlift and air access. Once they start flying on this continent, there will be a revolution and we should encourage all efforts to make sure that the low-cost airlines start considering flying on our continent.
In my first intervention I referred to our markets, but the African markets are there to be taken. We have wasted a number of years allowing people in Africa to go to Europe and other destinations if they could afford it, instead of coming to South Africa.
Yes, there is a lot of poverty on our continent, but there are millions of people who can afford to travel. The first time they might come here and do some shopping, but the second time around they might come as tourists to do some shopping and visit some of our attractions.
I believe that those were some of the important issues that were mentioned by the members. I am quite sure that if there are other issues on which you would like us to elaborate and to further engage with you in discussions, from the department's side, we would be available. I am also available. I thank you. [Applause.]