Decline in domestic tourism Opinion Piece by James Vos MP Shadow Minister of Tourism
Making tourism affordable
Decline in domestic tourism: This follows increasing evidence that domestic tourism is coming under pressure, because of a worsening economy and the lack of affordable holiday destinations. This explains the decline of domestic travellers. The National Department of Tourism (NDT) should specifically investigate the growing reality for so many South Africans that tourism is just too expensive. It also needs to look at what can be done to help the tourism sector grow in the light of an economic downturn.The DA’s policy on tourism sets out a number of steps to improve domestic tourism.
• Promoting the culture of travel and touring amongst South Africans through effective marketing, information and education;
• Providing tourism operators with information on domestic tourism demand to promote the development of tourism products targeted at diversified domestic market segments;
• Promoting an increased awareness amongst communities and the general public about the importance of and economic potential in tourism and conservation;
• Supporting a greater geographic spread of tourism offerings; and
• Ensuring that the infrastructure created to support domestic tourism is designed to serve as the backbone for international tourism.
Furthermore, government must look into the numerous poorly developed and maintained government-funded tourist sites.I have previously pointed out that more should be done to make government-owned resorts, parks, nature reserves and the like affordable to our citizens. Our proposal would allow for all South Africans to gain free or discounted entry to such facilities.There are already some great examples of this model, such as the free entry onto the Table Mountain Cable Car on your birthday. We need to expand this further if we are to get South Africans to experience their country.I am pleased that the proposals I put to
We need to expand this further if we are to get South Africans to experience their country.I am pleased that the proposals I put to committee in terms of discounted access to government owned parks is currently being investigated by SANPARKS.Furthermore, government must look into the numerous poorly developed and maintained government-funded tourist resorts. Replies to questions I submitted, point to an audit, which has identified about 700 resorts that are underutilized.My oversight visits have shown that many resorts in small towns have become dysfunctional. This is reprehensible. These resorts, built with taxpayers’ money, are a huge liability for these municipalities.This brings me to an important question. Why did government not implement the budget resort concept, despite commissioning a study into this model, which resulted in the government announcing in May 2013 that it would in partnership with the Industrial Development Corporation and private sector, convert underused state properties into tourist facilities? The plan was to initially run between three to five resorts as a pilot project.
Clearly, there is a lackluster approach by government to implement this plan. Just imagine if this gets implemented, it could go a long way in terms of managing these resorts more effectively, boosting domestic tourism and growing small town economies.Since my appointment to this portfolio, I have pointed that we should consider making use of underutilized municipal resorts for the new domestic market by developing it into tourist attractions and facilities – converting into “budget” holiday destinations, in partnership with the private sector.It is simply wrong to have these state resources stand vacant and underutilized while there is a demand in certain market segments of our country.The last few years decline in domestic tourism definitely confirms our submission to invest in tourism promotion and campaigns. South Africa’s tourism growth potential rate justifies the need to invest more in tourism infrastructure.With non-travelling South Africans having indicated that they could not afford to travel or were not aware of accessible offerings, the NDT must do more to address these information and cost barriers.
JAMES VOS, MP