The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism Mr Supra Mahumapelo has suggested that the Department of Tourism needs to reconsider spending a large proportion of its budget allocation on international marketing. He suggested that it should invest more in developing tourism in small villages and townships, to get more black Africans to participate in the industry’s main economy.

Speaking in a virtual meeting of the committee where members of Parliament were briefed on the department’s performance in the third and fourth terms of the financial year 2019/2020, Mr Mahumapelo argued that the work of marketing the country internationally to get more tourists to visit South Africa should be left to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

“Maybe in the financial year 22/23 we need to look at the possibility of shifting more money to do work in the villages, townships and small dorpies where poverty is more prevalent, to get more black people in the tourism business and create jobs,” the Chairperson said.

Mr Mahumapelo also spoke strongly against service providers who fail to complete projects, saying they put the department in a bad light and called for action to be taken against such service providers. “On projects that could not be completed or got delayed due to failing service providers, the department must develop a mechanism to recoup the losses.

“It should be clear from a policy perspective how do we deal with such. We suggest that the department must develop a policy that if a service provider fails, they must not be allowed to do business with government again,” he said.

He further proposed that government must develop an integrated tracking system to trace failing providers and ban them from doing business with the state.

The committee applauded the department for being candid about its shortcomings in areas where targets were not met. The committee also welcomed the allocation of an additional R100 million to top up the R200 million initially allocated for the Covid-19 Tourism Relief Fund. For purposes of transparency on the use of the relief fund, the committee wants the department to publish the names of all beneficiaries, as well as amounts received.

“Let us be transparent on the use of the relief fund, publish the names of those who received and how much they got. In that way, we will be complying with the Constitution,” the committee Chairperson said.

 Sakhile Mokoena

28 July 2020