Promoting tourism should be a priority for the whole of government. This is according to Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela.
He took part in a Tourism month debate in the National Council of Provinces under the theme: ‘Building viable tourism spaces and facilities for local development.’
Mahlalela says if all government department work optimally, it unlocks the economic potential of tourism in more sustainable ways.
“The roads they drive, the hotel in which they stay, the mall and attraction they visit, or their ability to make a phone call or access internet is critical in ensuring tourists will stay longer at a destination and spend more; and that they will also return, time and time again.”
He added that local government can also use tourism to create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities.
“Draw support of SMMEs, besides government support. There is (are) a range of non-government support initiatives that one can tap into. Tourism rich municipalities can anchor their development strategy around tourism as I explained earlier how tourism can unlock development of other sectors in economy.
‘Local tourism neglected’
However, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP Noluvuyo Tafeni says government has neglected tourism at local level for too long.
“Tourism benefits don’t trickle down to poor communities. Tourism development in township and rural areas remains far from being advanced. Township tourism was once vibrant spaces filled with historical or heritage and political tourism but under this minister, they are only known as crime spots where foreign tourists go to die.
Nhlanhla Radebe from the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) echoed Tafeni’s sentiments.
“Plans on paper are wonderful, but the supporting infrastructure needed no longer exists and is in state of decay that is rendered useless. In Northern KwaZulu-Natal, we have areas that have the world’s most amazing landscapes, which are the envy of many first world countries…but due to conditions of roads, international resorts were forced to closed down and jobs were shed.”
DA MP, Sonia Boshoff, says recent history has taught the country where the focus should be.
“After COVID-19, tourism has changed, it has become apparent that more emphasis should be placed on local and domestic tourism. It’s a significant job creator. You put local people to work in hotels as guides and it often spans a wide range of skills and educational levels.”
The country celebrates Tourism Month during the month of September.
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