Tourism gets R340m BOOST to trans­form

CityPress - - Business - LESETJA MALOPE lesetja.malope@city­press.co.za

A R340 mil­lion trans­for­ma­tion fund has been es­tab­lished to im­prove the low lev­els of trans­for­ma­tion in the tourism sec­tor over three years.

Speak­ing to City Press dur­ing the tourism depart­ment’s Trans­for­ma­tion Sum­mit held in Benoni last week, Min­is­ter Tokozile Xasa said the trans­for­ma­tion fund was es­tab­lished in part­ner­ship with the Na­tional Em­pow­er­ment Fund (NEF). The depart­ment con­trib­uted R40 mil­lion. “Over the next three years, the to­tal amount is R340 mil­lion. We are start­ing small as from our side we are con­tribut­ing R40 mil­lion, which is cater­ing for the capped grant fund­ing.

“So, we want to see how far it will go be­cause it has to start now,” she said.

Xasa said the fund will be made avail­able to small and medium en­ter­prises through the na­tional of­fice and not through the var­i­ous pro­vin­cial tourism agen­cies.

“We have precincts and nodes that we have iden­ti­fied so that we track progress of our fund­ing,” she said.

She added that the fund hopes to make a dif­fer­ence and trans­form the en­tire tourism value chain. In­cluded in its mis­sion for trans­for­ma­tion was gen­der eq­uity in ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tions, as well as own­er­ship and in­fra­struc­ture main­te­nance.

The fund, Xasa said, would be used to en­cour­age pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ment and to un­lock the po­ten­tial of small, medium and mi­cro en­ter­prises, co­op­er­a­tives and township en­ter­prises.

The depart­ment has also re­ceived the pre­lim­i­nary State of Trans­for­ma­tion Re­port. Xasa said she was not im­pressed by its find­ings, but not sur­prised.

“The re­sults are wor­ry­ing. In fact they are con­firm­ing what has been the is­sue – that the lev­els of trans­for­ma­tion are low,” she said. Xasa added that the level of par­tic­i­pa­tion in the re­search was also wor­ry­ing as it was on a vol­un­tary ba­sis.

“The re­port con­firms that we have not moved. Be it in sup­plier de­vel­op­ment, in skills de­vel­op­ment and even in the ac­tual in­dus­try,” she said, ad­ding that the re­port was al­most a replica of the same one com­mis­sioned in 2011.

Xasa said that, be­fore 2009, busi­nesses in the in­dus­try claimed there was not enough lo­cal skilled labour to em­ploy and that was why it was flooded with for­eign em­ploy­ees.

The depart­ment sub­se­quently es­tab­lished a skills de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme that in­cluded Unisa.

One of the big­gest chal­lenges fac­ing the in­dus­try is the lack of place­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for trained prac­ti­tion­ers, Xasa said.

“From this re­port the in­di­ca­tion is that we have not yet dented what we have picked up on in 2011.

“If you look into the num­bers that we have been train­ing, not all of them get ab­sorbed,” she said.

Xasa said the gov­ern­ment al­ready had sev­eral other mech­a­nisms it could use to drive trans­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing the is­suance of op­er­at­ing li­cences in var­i­ous sec­tors.

Gov­ern­ment also had R10 bil­lion per year in buy­ing power, as es­ti­mated by Na­tional Trea­sury.

“These must be ef­fec­tively used to drive trans­for­ma­tion, as they are within the public sec­tor’s con­trol.

“Gov­ern­ment can­not achieve trans­for­ma­tion by it­self; the pri­vate sec­tor has a sig­nif­i­cant role to play and con­tri­bu­tion to make.

“This in­cludes, but is not lim­ited to, di­rect em­pow­er­ment through im­ple­men­ta­tion of the codes. Such would re­sult in more en­ter­prise and sup­plier de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and in­clu­siv­ity through own­er­ship and man­age­ment con­trol,” she said.

Xasa also said one of the cru­cial suc­cess fac­tors for trans­for­ma­tion re­mained ac­cess to strate­gic land parcels at lo­cal gov­ern­ment and within com­mu­nal prop­er­ties.

“We be­lieve that long-term leases for the use of strate­gic land parcels would sig­nif­i­cantly as­sist in get­ting black en­ter­prises into the busi­ness of tourism, par­tic­u­larly in strate­gic tourism hubs.

“In the same vein, we be­lieve tra­di­tional lead­ers and their con­stituen­cies could lever­age their strate­gic land through part­ner­ships with gov­ern­ment and in­dus­try for com­mu­nity ben­e­fit,” she said.

Gov­ern­ment can­not achieve trans­for­ma­tion by it­self; the pri­vate sec­tor has a sig­nif­i­cant role to play and con­tri­bu­tion to make

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