By: Tebogo Mokwena
The Department of Tourism plans to spend almost R300-million in the next financial year on developing enterprises and transforming the tourism sector. The department will also train 250 SMMEs on norms and standards and will focus on improving its expenditure towards these businesses. The department, which appeared before the Select Committee on Trade, Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment, and Labour this week, revealed that it would spend R48,204,000 on enterprise development and transformation.
Almost R250-million has been set aside for the Tourism Incentive Programme, which is aimed at stimulating growth and development in the tourism sector by providing financial assistance to privately owned tourism enterprises. The department has also set a target for spending 40% of its expenditure budget on the procurement of goods and services from SMMEs as part of its transformation agenda. This includes focussing on increasing procurement from women-owned businesses. This year, 250 SMMEs are set to be trained on norms and standards, and 30 SMMEs will be selected from each province.
The Tourism Technology and Innovation Incubator, a youth-focused initiative launched in 2022, will incubate 20 SMMEs from across the country. Department Director General Victor Tharage admitted that transformation in the tourism sector was not taking place quickly enough. He also noted that there was a decline in applications for the Tourism Transformation Fund, which was meant to facilitate transformation in the sector. “We need to look into that and say why we cannot get the level of acceleration in that regard,” Tharage said.
Meanwhile, an announcement made by Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille that the SA Tourism Board has been dissolved, was welcomed by the Federated Hospitality Association of SA (FEDHASA) and the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (Satsa). De Lille told the committee that an interim three-person board would be appointed, and its members would have knowledge of finance, governance, and the tourism sector. The axing of the board follows allegations of dodgy corporate governance and sexual harassment, and an R1 billion Tottenham Hotspur sponsorship debacle.
Satsa CEO David Frost told Vutivi News that the SA Tourism Board needed members who knew about tourism and marketing. “The lack of tourism and marketing knowledge and expertise on the board paves the way to situations like that which we have just seen at the organisation,” he said. FEDHASA national chair Rosemary Anderson lauded the minister’s decision. “She has repeatedly emphasised the potential for tourism to be a strong catalyst for economic development and job creation and has already shown in her actions that she is committed to making this a reality,” she told Vutivi News.“We stand with Minister De Lille in her efforts to bring the private and public sectors together to drive inbound tourism to South Africa. “The more successfully we do this, the more jobs and businesses we create, particularly hospitality and tourism SMEs,” she noted.