Tourism must reduce poverty

limpopo tour

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom says the success of tourism will be judged by how much it contributes towards reducing poverty, inequality and unemployment.

The Department of Tourism is currently developing amended Tourism Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) codes to address imbalances in the ownership of tourism enterprises. The goal is also to develop skills and stimulate suppliers.

Speaking at the Local Government Tourism conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Minister Hanekom said more can be done if the private sector approaches transformation as a business imperative.

“Much more can be achieved by looking beyond issues of compliance, by seeking out and adopting innovations that bring fundamental change,” he said.

According to the Tourism Satellite Account released by Stats SA last week, in 2013 the tourism sector in South Africa directly contributed R104 billion, or 2.9% to the gross domestic product (GDP).

This resulted in direct employment of 655 000 people, or 4.4% of the total labour force.

“We have a robust, growing sector that has consistently outperformed most other sectors in our economy and it is a sector that employs a lot of people,” the Minister said.

He said more inclusive growth in the tourism sector will assist enormously in addressing inequality through radical economic transformation.

“To achieve this inclusive growth, all spheres of government will need to work towards increasing the number of tourism programmes and projects that are led by and benefit communities. This will lay the foundation for real transformation to take root on the ground.

“We definitely need better alignment and integration across all spheres of government. Local government institutions are often unable to carry out their functions properly because of capacity constraints or inadequate resources.”

The conference was a joint venture between the Department of Tourism and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA).  It was held under the theme ‘Tourism: A Catalyst for Local Economic Growth, Job Creation and Transformation’.

It was aimed at providing a platform for public and private sector stakeholders to deliberate on how best to position tourism as a key economic sector that creates employment opportunities and contributes to poverty alleviation as espoused in the National Development Plan (NDP). –