The Portfolio Committee on Tourism undertook oversight visits to Gauteng in November 2014 and February 2015. The committee had to look into transformation in the tourism sector, the department and the industry; job creation and the quality thereof; visa regulations; and ways of making travel easier and less costly. Finally, they looked into tourism statistics. Meetings were held with the national Department of Tourism, South African Tourism, the business sector and the Minister.
The committee noted the underspending by the department on some critical projects, such as the Corporate Social Responsibility initiative and the Tourism Incentive Programme. The department gave an assurance that it had devised a strategy to spend the entire appropriated budget by the end of this financial year. However, the committee will look into that exactly at the end of the financial year and the beginning of the new financial year.
The Minister briefed the committee in Sandton on 6 February 2015 on various aspects of the Tourism Incentive Programme. He further reported on the forthcoming launch of the programme. The department will be reporting on that programme tomorrow.
There was a meeting and good interaction with the private sector, which gave its commitment to working with the government on a number of collaborative programmes initiated by the department to facilitate job creation opportunities.
There are some challenges in the department and the industry. These include airlift and connectivity; the cost of travel within South Africa and on the African continent; the visa regulations and the potential reduction of tourist arrivals; and the unnecessary expenditure on time and the finances pre travelling.
Statistics continue to be a challenge in the tourism sector. South African Tourism was not able to give a full report on achievements and some of their targets, as there were delays in the release of tourism statistics by Statistics SA.
The tourism industry is concerned that it is owed R350 million in unpaid receipts by government and that the tourism industry is not regulated. The committee made some recommendations in order to monitor the spending of the department in critical projects, such as the Tourism Incentive Programme; job creation and the quality of those jobs; and transformation in the department, as well as in the industry. The Department of Transport is to revisit the 2006 Airlift Strategy in order to look into the issues regarding airlift.
The hospitality industry is to collate a list of those who were not able to pay so that payment can be facilitated. Government departments are to pay their accounts to the hospitality industry within 30 days as required.
Visa regulations have to be reviewed and should strike a balance between national security and growth in tourism, as stated by the President in his state of the nation address.
It is important to review the Tourism Act of 2014 with a view to regulating the tourism industry. The tourism industry is to be regulated for the following reasons: to get realistic information on occupancy, on tourist arrivals, and on labour issues.
I really would request this House to consider and adopt this report. Siyaqhuba! [Applause.]
There was no debate.