Minister Des van Rooyen’s Remarks at the Tourism Transformation Summit

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Minister of Tourism, Ms Tokozile Xasa,

Ministers and Deputy Ministers,

MECs present here today,

Chairpersons of Portfolio Committees,

Members of Parliament,

Executive Mayor of the City of Ekurhuleni, Mzwandile Masina,

Executive Mayors and Mayors present,

Members of Mayoral Committees,

Councillors present,

CEOs and leadership from the private sector and NGOs,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

It is my honour to join you today.

 

The tourism sector plays an increasingly vital role in our economy, contributing approximately 9,5 percent to the GDP and supporting 1,4 million jobs.

 

This Summit convened under the theme, “Tourism for All: Transform, Grow and Sustain,” could not come sooner as we grapple with the necessity for radical economic transformation.

 

It is vital that we ensure that black South Africans also benefit from this resilient and growing sector of our economy, that has advanced greatly with the advent of democracy.

 

Earlier this year we partnered with the Department of Tourism in the Third Local Government Tourism Conference to examine what role local government can play in ensuring that we contribute to the development of the industry.

 

Our interaction today is in further support of that, with a view to glean greater knowledge on how we can contribute to the transformation of the sector.

 

As the Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, we want to ensure that traditional leadership sector works towards improving the lives of all South Africans, especially those living in traditional or rural communities.

 

When we speak of transformation of the sector, we want to have an impact on some of the poorest of our communities, those living in rural and traditional communities, who would find it difficult to enter the formal economy.

 

The conceptualization of this summit informs us that it offers the sector, a platform to reflect and engage on the current state of transformation in the tourism, with a view of finding solutions that will promote its advancement. We are grateful that this summit comes after a call for radical socio-economic transformation and therefore, it also places before us an opportunity to recommit the sector to this important agenda of the ruling party.

 

Our gathering here today is geared towards ensuring that tourism sector transformation strategies and investment opportunities are aimed at radically improving black and women participation across the value chain with industry growth and sustainability, to promote business linkages and share transformative investment opportunities and to outline and assess funding mechanisms available to SMMEs and black-owned entities in the tourism sector.

 

As I said earlier, the traditional leadership sector, is inevitably part and parcel of this tourism transformation agenda that we seek to strengthen so as to expand beneficiation and in particular, is intended for the black majority. Therefore, I am making rallying call to all of us here to work closely with our traditional leaders and the sector at large to realise tourism transformation within their sector and also increase the country’s tourism offering. So, even amongst the stakeholders invited here, the institution of traditional leadership should be strongly represented.

 

The institution of traditional leadership has structures in the form of Kingship or Queenship Councils and Traditional Councils, including other traditional leadership tourism offerings that are readily available for us to tap into and maximise our reach and beneficiation. The Tourism Transformation Fund should also target amongst its clientele, the traditional leadership sector so as to create an environment conducive for tourism growth and development and make use of a readily available resource that is rich in culture and heritage.

 

The institution of traditional leadership accounts for a population of over 21 million who can contribute to the country in terms economic growth and contribution to GDP.

In reaffirming what I said earlier, I am informed that the Council conducted its first study to assess the state of transformation in the tourism sector and it was found that transformation in the tourism sector is painfully slow. This further motivates my assertion that we need to also look at this sector that has been sidelined for some time and can easily contribute to more inclusive growth. It is the one of the ways which will enable the benefits of the sector to accrue to black people.

 

Let me quote the Minister of Tourism, Honourable Tokozile Xasa at the recent Traditional Leaders’ Indaba when she said,

 

“Your Majesties, Your Highnesses, our traditional leaders,

 

The role of Traditional Leadership is critically important in supporting tourism development on Traditional Land and in particular in rural areas of South Africa. Without the support or buy-in from Traditional Leaders in these areas, tourism development will never succeed.

 

The role of your leadership in tourism development includes among others assisting with coordinated approach to integrated land use planning and development; facilitating access to communal land for tourism purposes; the development of authentic cultural and heritage tourism products and the development of rural tourism precincts or nodes.

 

Traditional Leaders are the custodian of communal land with land ownership being a critical component for economic transformation. This asset provides communities with a strategic advantage for economic development, in particular tourism development.”

 

Minister Xasa further stated,

 

“Tourism can provide a source of income in locations with few alternative economic opportunities. Some of the opportunities relate to the value chain in the tourism sector as tourism depends on other goods and services beyond just providing accommodation and transport.

 

Communities and local entrepreneurs should be encouraged and supported to develop supply chain opportunities among others in food production, such as vegetables; growing of flowers for hotels and lodges; establishing laundry services; developing culturally specific and unique crafts for retail at market places or use as décor at tourism establishments; development of community based tourism experiences which can be linked to a local tourism route; and training as tour guides and wonderful story tellers.

 

Opportunities also exist to develop rural community tourism destination or hubs, which provide visitors with an established gateway to the various unique community experiences. A key tourism trend is providing authentic tourism experience. Many tourists request opportunities where they can become part of the daily routine of a community through homestay visits and interacting with the local culture through engagement with the community and even enjoyment of our traditional food. These are low hanging fruit and does not require any additional infrastructure or skills.”

 

Minister Xasa, what you said was profound and we are building on your inputs in terms of taking the issues you raised forward. Some of the examples of tourism offerings from the traditional leadership sector which we are not taking full advantage of is that, we have 829 Senior Traditional Leaders in the Country, excluding our Majesties and many of these Traditional Leaders annually celebrate and commemorate their cultures, traditions and customs through huge community ceremonies which they organise with Provincial and Local Government and these commemorations in themselves are tourism product offerings since they showcase heritage culture, traditions and customs through food, dance, attire, traditional implements, story- telling, poetry, and many other ways. Earlier this month we marked the Hhoyi Cultural Festival in Mpumalanga that witnessed a colourful display of that traditional community in all its glory. We ought to take full advantage of these and upscale them to the levels whereby the standard and quality is of high degree to yield high-level beneficiation.

Other examples of these annual commemorations includes the Mokete wa Mokopu wa Mokgoloko, Komjekejeke, Mabunda Heroes Day celebrations, Makhado day celebrations, Batlharo Cultural Day, Sekhukhune Day, Nwamitwa Celebrations, Mpisikazi Celebrations, Ndzundza Sokhulumi Celebrations, the arrival of Amahlubi at Khayakhulu celebrations, the Ndzundza Mabusa celebrations, Hosi Humu celebrations, Mathibela Day celebrations, Nghunghunyane day, Ingquza revolt celebrations, Amapondomise celebrations, Taung calabash, Skhumbuzo day, Sedibelo Festival, Mokete wa Moroka day, Mokete wa Mopeli celebrations, King Shaka celebrations, the Reed Dance, Hosi Mahumani Day celebrations, Queen Modjadji day celebrations, Nama celebrations, Mokete wa Batlokwa, Eholweni, Muhlava day, Moletji reconciliation day, Go loma bokanyi, Amadlambe, Griqua Cultural festival and many more. This gives you some sense of the deep cultural heritage that has been bequeathed to us, and yet one whose tourism value and potential is yet to be realized.

It is critical that we work together to realise radical socio-economic transformation within the tourism sector and in so doing mobilise the traditional leadership sector through existing structures of traditional leaders at national, provincial and local level. I am committing the Department of Traditional Affairs to work closely with the Department of Tourism to ensure that this transformation is realized within the traditional leadership sector as well. We must come up with some arrangements of how we will achieve this and I therefore wish to commit my Director-General (DG) to engage your DG in this regard.

As we meet, let us remember that we find ourselves in the midst of the Urban October month, that is committed to acknowledge the increasing rate of urbanization across the world, and including in our country. Tomorrow we commemorate World Cities Day, a further acknowledgement of the growing importance of our cities and urban spaces in the development of our society. Let us also bear this in mind as we seek to create opportunities in the tourism sector that are more inclusive of the majority of our population.

I thank you for the opportunity to address you and look forward to a meaningful collaboration with our departments – one that will result in the majority of our population being active participants in and benefitting from, the tourism sector.

I wish you well over your deliberations.

I thank you.