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South Africa’s economy in close symbiosis with tourism sector

The importance of the tourism sector for the South African economy cannot be overemphasised.

Tourism and the economy are in close symbiosis and when a single tourist visits the country, it benefits the country's entire economic value chain.

One drawback of the tourism sector is that it is easily affected by external influences, like last year's unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng as well as the country's high crime rate.

The violence, murder and general criminality are, however, not restricted to towns and cities, parks, resorts and other tourist destinations, it also has a direct impact on the country's trademark and South Africa's attraction as a tourist destination.

The parliamentary Portfolio Committee's performance report on tourism for the first quarters of the 2021/22 financial year recognises that investors are keeping an eye on the country's tourism environment and that they are unsure of when it will recover.

The responsibility of ensuring economic recovery and investor confidence clearly does not only rest on the shoulders of tourism, but also on every department in the government structure. Still, the Department of Tourism must make the necessary changes and every effort to involve other departments in the overall endeavour to help tourism recover.

It seems, though, that this sector is trying to shift the blame for its poor performance to others.

The court order issued last year, which prohibited any payments from the Department's Tourism Equity Fund (TEF), was made the scapegoat for tourism's failure to achieve certain performance targets.

The court found that the Fund fundamentally discriminates against white people seeing as it would only assist businesses that are 51% black-owned.

Last April, the government allowed tourism to deviate from the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) targets by deviating from the existing colour targets, thus, enabling it to empower black women in the industry, in particular, through so-called "sectoral transformation".

Putting it forward as the sole reason why the Department failed to achieve its performance targets is dishonest and misleading.

In addition, the Department admitted that the entire TEF had already been paid out when the court issued the ruling.

The court also found that the TEF was not a Covid-19 emergency fund, but a transformation initiative.

The former Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, exploited the pandemic to further the ANC's agenda and policy. What a shame.

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