Hon House Chair and hon members, good afternoon. Hon members, the workshop that was conducted by the
Portfolio Committee on Tourism and the Portfolio Committee on Police with various public sector and private sector stakeholders on the scourge of crimes committed against tourists was a huge success. Some of the stakeholders that were present came across the length and breadth of the country representing voices of provinces and local municipalities. The private sector was represented by the Business Council of South Africa. It was also encouraging to witness the kin interests shown by tourist stakeholders and tourism scholars from across universities in the country. All stakeholders agreed that crime was a threat not only to tourism growth, but to the economic growth of the country as a whole.
The timing of the joint consultative workshop on tourism safety was conducted by Parliament as an oversight mechanism to ensure that we play our meaningful role in ensuring that government does what it has to do to ensure that programmes of government are implemented correctly and that the money spent is accounted for. The growth of the tourism sector, hon members, depends on the increase of tourism arrivals. However, the recent past the sector has suffered serious blow in the state of crimes against tourists which tarnishes the brand of South Africa as a tourist destination of choice from abroad and across the continent.
It is disheartening to note that tourism figures have continue to decline since the colloquium or the workshop which was convened in August. It should be noted that South Africa is losing its market share to country such as Kenya and Egypt. In addition to safety concerns, South Africa is losing its competitiveness to these countries while source market countries are issuing advisories concerns against South Africa, they are withdrawing advisory concerns against Kenya and Egypt. These two competing countries to South Africa have introduced measure such as e-visas and have simplified the process of processing visas and their airlift strategies are now put in place which put them at an advantage position to South Africa.
A number of observations were made from the inputs from various organisations which included: hon members, the emphasis that efforts must be put on tourism safety which does not only depends on government, but citizens must play a critical role and must ensure that awareness is at community level, to ensure that tourists are protected at all time, to ensure that citizens understand that when a tourist visits their area, they are boosting the local economy, they are also growing the gross domestic product, GDP, of the country, and they are creating jobs and putting bread on the table
of those who depend on the sector to ensure that they have a livelihood.
Majority cities which are tourists destinations across the country have now dedicated tourism safety officers, which are closely monitoring hot sports, to ensure that tourists feel safely in the country and therefore can enjoy the beauty and serenity of the country with its diverse people so that when they go back to their countries, they can tell them a good story of a South Africa that is safe ... Thank you. [Time expired.]
Hon House Chair, firstly, allow me to congratulate the Chairperson of our portfolio committee for the initiative in hosting this important workshop. It is exactly this type of co-ordination and crosspollination that is lacking and is needed within tourism so that we can do it better. Secondly, the national Department of Tourism and the portfolio committee absolutely understand that tourism is an economic driver and job creator. However, departments such as the Police do not understand this, and here exactly lies the problem. Police treats tourism and the safety of tourists as a safety issue. The paradigm needs to shift to understand that policing of tourists and tourism is actually an economic driver and not just a safety issue.
Countries that have high number of tourists consistently year after year are able to sustain these numbers because government departments treat tourists as an economic driver or of the department ... [Inaudible.] ... When more people are employed, the economy grows, and in turn, then this impact positively on crime because it drops the budget allocation, for example, to these departments also grows. It is clear that the number one challenge confronting South Africans is to grow our economy and to create jobs. We all need to rally behind solving this challenge. This means positioning ourselves wherever we are to address this. This is my challenge to the police. They need to change the way that they see crime and deal with it.
As I stated in the House yesterday, the latest data released by Statistics SA confirms that tourism is not growing, in fact, is regressing. The number one reason for this is safety and security concerns.
The statistics confirms that international tourists coming to our shores have reduced. Focus countries like China have reduced by 10%. Countries that traditionally we have enjoyed a great high number of tourists like Germany have reduced by 6,5%, and cumulatively
tourists from Africa have reduced by 1,4%. These figures are a concern. We need to be more aggressive to change this around.
Co-ordination between different departments is a starting point. The first ball was kicked by our committee Chairperson and with this workshop. Let's make this a trend. I propose that another joint workshop be held, the next one possibly being with the Home Affairs to address the visa issue. Such co- ordination will ensure that the past opportunities that we have lost are not repeating in future. Activities such as the Rugby World Cup victory this weekend should be capitalised on and piggy-banked on by tourism. We should be telling the world about South Africa today, while South Africa is on their lips throughout the world - tomorrow maybe too late.
Keeping South Africa on the world's mind now would reverse any negative perceptions that would exist and would start increasing the number of tourists to our shores. This would have a knock-on effect on growing our economy and also creating jobs. Let's challenge all these departments to start thinking differently about tourism and, in this way, creating jobs and growing our economy. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Chairperson, as the EFF we attended the workshop and I must emphasise from the beginning that like any other South African, we are disheartened by rampant criminal activity that keeps all of us in fear for our lives in our own homes. If we, therefore, are not able to keep South Africans safe every day, it will be quite a tall order to try to keep the rest of those who come to visit this beautiful nation safe.
The consultative workshop was a necessary intervention, therefore; to look at how the tourism sector and the police and safety should work hand in hand for the safety of tourists in our country. This is for the simple reason that if tourists are not feeling safe if there are stories of tourists getting murdered and mugged, they will stop visiting, and that will severely damage the economy, and cause long- term negative effects towards our job creation goals.
So our approach to the problem of criminality must be systematic, it must be comprehensive enough to root out the causes of crime generally, before we can deal with the specific crimes perpetrated against tourists. We need to have visible policing across the country, free of corruption and immune to manipulation by criminal gangs.
The biggest criminals we have at the moment are with the police themselves that is why they lost the murder docket of Senzo Meyiwa. They are easily bought by criminals. Our entire criminal justice system must be made to work so that those arrested of criminality are brought to book.
There must be close co-operation between tourist destinations such as the Kruger National Park and the SA Police Service, SAPS. Sadly, we must also sensitise our tourists that they need to stick to designated tourist paths, which must be made safe, because South Africa - at the moment - may be dangerous to the wandering tourists.
Finally, a long-lasting solution to the problem of crime more generally though, is that our education system must work and produce people who can contribute to the economy of the country. Our industrial policy must function to create industries that would employ people.
We must promote small businesses so that those who want to employ themselves can do so. And we must punish those who break the law, starting from politicians, down to those who take bribes. Thank you very much, House Chair. [Applause.]
Hon House Chairperson, hon members, if this country is to meet the President's target of 21 million tourist arrivals by 2030 we must get tougher on crime and the promotion of tourist safety in this country.
South Africa does not want to find itself on international country lists under the heading, Travel Advisory, like the one issued by the United States Department of State on the 19 October last year advising US citizens visiting South Africa to, "Exercise increased caution due to crime and civil unrest."
Tourists are advised to avoid walking alone, especially after dark, to avoid visiting informal settlement areas, to not display cash or valuables and to always drive with doors locked and windows closed. Tourists are further advised that:
"Violent crime, such as armed robbery, rape, carjacking, mugging, and "smash-and-grab" attacks on vehicles are very common and that there is a higher risk of violent crime in the central business districts of major cities after dark."
This does not sound like a place I would want to visit with my family if I was a foreigner. South Africa has it all in terms of
nature, beauty and biodiversity and yet our weak stance on crime will prevent tourists from visiting the country.
Joint Consultative Workshop on Tourist Safety and Security in South Africa such as this one which brought together all interested and affected stakeholders concerned about the crime committed against tourists in South Africa and with the stated goals and intention to find lasting solutions to mitigate the impact of crime on the tourism industry in the short term and completely eradicate tourism crime in the long term is most necessary.
We must also learn from countries like Iceland, Portugal, Japan, Ireland and Australia where tourists are welcomed and feel and are safe and secure. Technology must be embraced and utilised to its maximum in countering criminal activity.
Partnerships must be forged between business, community policing forums, SAPS, and all spheres of government as through an integrated approach will be necessary. So, by saying that, ...
... i-IFP iyawuseka lombiko futhi icela ukuthi izinto zonke ezakhulunywa kwingqungquthela ziyenziwa ngendlela efanele kube yiyo. Ngiyathokoza.
Hon House Chair, we must acknowledge the efforts made by the Department of Tourism to bring multiple stakeholders together to craft a Tourist Safety and Security Strategy. We must also acknowledge the efforts made by President Cyril Ramaphosa to encourage and inspire confidence in our country.
We share that responsibility each one of us. Every South African has the responsibility to promote our nation in spite of our challenges. The challenges we face, such as high crime rates, unemployment and inequality should motivate us to pull together, because we have a shared future.
Challenges must not define us, it is our hope and belief in a South Africa for all that must inspire us to carry the flag of this nation in whatever capacity we may find ourselves in and here it is worth mentioning the #ImStaying that relays the inspirational stories of ordinary South Africans and their reasons that they will stay in this country.
Our collective efforts are needed to change the downward trajectory in international visitors coming to our country and domestic visitors to our respective provinces. In short, we must all see ourselves as brand ambassadors for our nation. We could regurgitate the statistics, we all know them. We are ranked amongst the most violent countries in the world, and being flagged by countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia among others as a dangerous country.
But, the loss of revenue as a result of these realities, what it means for all of us, is fewer visitors come, and this further results in job losses and even deeper levels of poverty.
We must apply our energies in finding and driving solutions to move upward on the growth curve. As people in public office, we should do most of the heavy lifting to improve the outlook of our nation, and once again attract the world to this nation, sitting at the tip of Africa.
They want to come, we must give them reasons to come to our nation and each and South African carries that responsibility. I thank you. [Applause.]
Hon House Chair, the NFP welcomes the report of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism tabled here today. One of the core mandates in terms of the statement made by our President in February and in June 2019, is to attempt to double the tourism figures from 10, 5 million in 2018 to 21 million in 2030.
We note the concerns and impact crime has on tourism in the country. We welcome the co-ordinated effort by both the Portfolio Committee on Tourism and the SA Police Service to address crime against tourists. We also note that South Africa is ranked 101 out of 128 countries in the world in terms of safety.
We take note the fact that various stakeholders and individuals have participated in this workshop to try and create a more safer environment for our tourists. A matter of concern for us is the statistics and data that we get from Statistics SA compared to what we get from the SA Police Service. However the memorandum of understanding that has been entered into between the two departments is welcome.
We also concur with the findings that media plays a pivotal role in South Africa. We find that negative reporting in South Africa by the media have a negative impact on tourists coming to South Africa.
Yes, I think they need to play a positive role. I think what is important is that while we may disagree on a lot of things, have differences and we want power and control, but what we must not forget is that we are all South Africans and that we need to put South Africa first. I think an initiative of this nature must be welcome.
Let us not forget that every tourist that comes here is a human being. It is someone's son, someone's daughter, someone's brother and someone's sister. What we ought to do as South Africans is to welcome, to embrace, to protect, to guide them and make sure that they are safe and secure in South Africa. If we can do that, yes, indeed, we will be able to reach our target of ensuring that we have lot more tourists coming in South Africa.
When you speak to many people outside South Africa and you mention South Africa they say, no, no, I don't want to visit there it is too dangerous. It is up to us to sell South Africa in the interest of this country and in the interest of the millions of South Africans. The NFP welcomes this report. Thank you.
Chair of Chairs, following our joint consultative meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Police on 27 August 2019,
there were a number of recommendations that emerged from the discussions. These recommendations are a conduit of the consultative and constructive discussions that we had in the workshop. In attendance were committee members and parliamentary support staff, government officials, representatives from provincial legislatures, officials from provincial tourism authorities, members from academia and stakeholders from the private sector.
For me what stood out during the work shop as the committee correctly recommended, are two-pronged interventions. I wish to footnote the committee. Firstly, we need to roll-out tourism safety initiatives such as the safer festive season in all provinces. Secondly, the SA Police, SAPS, has to consider classifying crimes committed against tourists as tourism crime or economic crime considering the economic contribution of the sector to the GDP. The AIC support the report.
Hon Chairperson, House Chair and hon members, tourism remains one sector with a potential to unite the country and the world. An outreach to educate citizens about the importance of safety and Brand South Africa remain critical. South Africa is competing with other countries in the global market share of international arrivals. It is concerning though that the work done
on the brand tracking revealed a constant decline in the positive brand image of the country.
Findings from the South African Tourism's Brand Tracker for 2017 showed that 17% of tourist were doubtful of coming to the country due to safety concerns. But it is not only about that, colleague. It is about how patriotic we are about our country. Some of us talk bad about this country and yet we expect tourists to come to South Africa and we expect investors to come to this country. We have to be responsible. The brand of a country plays a crucial role in the choices made by tourists to visit a particular destination.
The recent crime incidents against tourists coupled with the perceived xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals, violence against women and children and service delivery protests have a potential to tarnish the brand of the country. We must do something. We can't bury our heads in the sand and pretend that safety is not an issue when in fact it poses a huge threat to tourism growth. We need to do something about it. The continued negative narrative in terms of bad reporting compromises both the safety and Brand South Africa. The President of the country has committed government and private sector to a bold and ambitious target of doubling tourism figures from 10,5 million $2018 to 21 million by 2030. We can only achieve this
if we all work together for a common goal. Let's all make South Africa a safe destination for tourist and brand the image of country.
The Springbok has shown us that united we stand, divided we fail "sam trek sam werk" [Pull together, work together]. The ANC supports the report. I thank you.