Budget resorts: Solution to domestic tourism growth
Statement by James Vos MP, DA Shadow Minister of Tourism
Regrettably various reports reveal that domestic tourism figures in South Africa are declining due to affordability and limited geographic spread.
The reality is that domestic tourism is shrinking. When the international trend is tourism growth, why are our citizens doing less travel?
Tourism and travel for South Africans are just too expensive!
The National Department of Tourism should specifically tackle the growing reality for so many South Africans that tourism is just too expensive.
Government’s Shot ‘left marketing campaign is too narrow, focusing exclusively on the young and upcoming segment whereas this campaign should be coupled with a discount proposal and a wider reaching marketing campaign.
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.
The solution is to introduce a campaign titled “Experience My South Africa” which would focus specifically on encouraging South Africans to get out and explore our country, while addressing affordability issues and limited geographic spread.
This initiative would also allow for all South Africans to gain free or discounted entry to government-owned national parks, reserves, museums and the like, on non-religious public holidays in South Africa.
A system of dual pricing, whereby foreign visitors would pay different fees than domestic visitors, should be introduced.
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 committee in terms of discounted access to government owned parks is currently being investigated by SANPARKS.
A further problem with local tourism is the numerous poorly developed and maintained government-funded tourist attractions – about 700 identified resorts – that remain sorely underused.
Replies to questions I submitted, point to an audit, which has identified about 700 resorts that are under-utilised.
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 begs the 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.
A viable solution is to establish partnerships with the private sector to convert these resorts into affordable “budget” holiday destinations.
Price attractions for high-volume, not for low-volume, and watch the surrounding economy thrive too.
I will submit my proposals to Parliament’s Tourism Portfolio Committee for inclusion in the Tourism Sector Strategy that is currently being reviewed.
We need real measures to ensure that tourism is made affordable. If we get this right, more employment opportunities and more emerging small businesses will be created.
James Vos MP
Shadow Minister of Tourism