The Department of Tourism has a number of plans for SMMEs over the next years, including helping develop emerging tourism businesses that offer accommodation. According to Tourism Deputy Minister Fish Mahlalela the department would continue with its drive to grow the number of graded properties across South Africa through its planned quality assurance function, which he believed offered a wide variety of products snd price points for tourists.
He said during the department’s recent budget vote, which included its programme of intervention for small accommodation businesses, that a greater emphasis would be placed on assisting new entrants to be more sustainable in the sector. “For this financial year and beyond, a specific focus will be on reviewing the grading system to include emerging products and the accommodation of SMMEs,” he said.
“A key component of our strategy is to ensure that demand is met by adequate diverse and unique tourism products and services to entice and excite visitors to our shores.” Mahlalela said that the programme was started in response to the Jobs Summit process in 2018, with the primary objective to improve and ensure proper maintenance of 19 national park assets to foster job creation, destination enhancement and bolster SMMEs.
He further noted that the regular maintenance of the country’s nature-based assets was extremely important to the local economy. Mahlalela also shared some of the department’s achievements for the previous financial year. He said that capacity building workshops focusing on a number of critical tourism issues such as raising awareness on tourism programmes, incentives, and business support programmes, were hosted in the Waterberg, Vhembe, and Mopani Districts in Limpopo, the Gert Sibanda and Nkangala Districts in Mpumalanga, and the Overberg District in the Western Cape.
In total nine sessions covering 39 participants were held, and these initiatives would be expanded to cover other provinces during this current financial year. Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said that the department would continue to implement the Tourism Incentive Programme to stimulate the growth, development, and transformation of the South African tourism sector.
“We have thousands of SMMEs throughout our townships, rural areas, and small dorpies offering authentic creative experiences throughout our tourism value chain,” she said. “These SMMEs are crucial for our goal of inclusive sustainable tourism and help spread the benefits of tourism to communities outside the traditional tourism hotspots.” Sisulu also said that the department would implement the Market Access Support Programme under the Tourism Incentive Programme.
This would offer partial financial support to qualifying small tourism enterprises to participate and exhibit at selected tourism marketing platforms. “We have already seen various trade shows return following the lockdown conditions globally, which resulted in most international tourism trade platforms being canceled,” she said. The tourism sector was one of the hardest hit by the Covid-19 lockdowns and has been struggling to get back on its feet.