Chair, hon Minister, hon Deputy Minister and hon members, firstly, I think we need to congratulate the department, even at this time, on the fact that for quite a number of years they have been doing well and getting clean audits. This is what we appreciate because, as we do our oversight, we, as the committee, want to know that the audits are clean.
Secondly, I want to thank the department for moving speedily with regard to the appointment of the director-general, Mr Kingsley Makhubela. No space was left, and he also hit the ground running. He has also turned out to be one of the most accessible DGs.
The ANC-led government has identified tourism as one of the key contributing sectors to the medium-term strategic priorities of growing the economy and creating decent work. In his 2011 state of the nation address President Jacob Zuma indicated that tourism was among the six priority areas where jobs can be created; that all government departments would align their programmes with the job creation imperative; and that the provincial and local government spheres had been requested to do the same.
As a matter of fact, even the Industrial Policy Action Plan 2, Ipap 2, indicates tourism as one of the areas expected to contribute to the development of, among other things, rural areas, culture and crafts by growing the economy and creating jobs.
Tourism plays an important role in the building of the national democratic society by accelerating growth and transforming the economy to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods; by supporting a comprehensive rural development strategy linked to land and agrarian reform and food security; by strengthening skills and the human resources base; and by building national pride through cohesive, caring and sustainable communities.
It is recognised that the tourism industry remains characterised by large disparities in access to opportunities and benefits, and in particular, opportunities that would benefit black people. It is also recognised that the sector is largely privately owned. The industry is aware of the residual impact of this legacy of inequality and its continuing impacts on efforts to ensure that a tourism and tourism-friendly culture takes root in our country. Entry to the industry is very, very difficult for some South Africans.
Forecasts indicate that travel and tourism's total economic contribution in 2011 will account for about 9,3%, as has been said.
One needs to mention quite a number of challenges. South Africa has always been popular with international leisure travellers, but it is also fast becoming a preferred business tourism destination. Large international companies are eager to host international events, conferences and trade expos in our country.
When it comes to adventure sports, South Africa has a lot to offer. South Africa is a perfect playground for quad biking enthusiasts. One major challenge is for South Africa to increase its domestic tourism market. Put bluntly, South Africans, even Members of Parliament, do not tour South Africa. The revival of the Sho't Left campaign is much appreciated.
Another challenge is that it seems as if there is no centre in one way or another in the industry; each municipality, province or department does its own thing or its own marketing. We are aware that there are spheres of government, but when it comes to representing and being the face of the country, we believe that SA Tourism, SAT, needs to lead - one country, one government.
The other issue would be the branding of the country. We raised this in the committee: There is a brand that says, "South Africa - Alive with Possibilities". If you go to any country in the world and you make that statement they will ask you which country that is. If, however, you say, "Rainbow Nation", they will immediately tell you that is South Africa. If you say, "Nelson Mandela", they will tell you that is South Africa. So we need to do something about the branding, and I am aware that something has been done about the branding of the country.
The other challenge would be tourists' safety. While we appreciate that the National Tourism Safety and Awareness Strategy has been developed, another campaign must be engaged to prove to the world, and even to Africa, that South Africa is safe and that it will not be used as a fertile ground on which to commit crime, as happened in the well-known Dewani case.
While all provinces have something to show tourists, such as KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and the Western Cape, others like the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape need some support from government to pick up on tourism.
We have had a strategic workshop with the department. We know their priorities for this financial year. We know how many jobs they plan to create, how many youths they intend to train as chefs, how they plan to fight poverty with their Expanded Public Works Programme, EPWP. We believe that with the resources they have been allocated they will do more to change the lives of the people. The committee supports the budget. Thank you.