Chairperson, as a member of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism I am most excited to be part of this exciting portfolio committee and I look forward to exciting things in the next year at least.
Within the sector 1,5 million and 1,4 million jobs were created in 2017 and 2018 respectively. In each case this accounts for more than 9% of total employment. Tourism directly contributed
2,9% to South African gross domestic product, GDP, in 2016, according to the latest release of Statistics SA tourism report.
This makes the tourism sector a larger contributor than, for example, agriculture. Tourism has added just over 40 000 net new jobs to the economy over the period from 2012 to 2016. This is higher and created more jobs than industries such as that of electricity, gas and water.
The tourism sector workforce numbers well over 600 000 employees. This outnumbers mining which numbers over 400 000 employees. In other words, presently, one in every 23 employed persons in South Africa is employed within the tourism sector.
However, much more needs to be done as tourism is an "easy win" for economic growth and job creation. Why do I say this? Because we are not growing at the rate we should be; as at the rate that the Minister, in fact, explained. Last year South Africa struggled to meet its domestic and international tourist targets. In 2018-2019 international arrivals dropped by 0,6% compared to the same period in 2017. In 2018 South Africa
welcomed 6,7 million tourists from outside our borders. This is much less than the 11,2 million target set by South African tourism.
The reasons for this are clear; the need for unabridged birth certificates for minors, concerns about safety and security and Visa issues are deterrents for travelling to South Africa. The inconsistencies of requirements of Visa documents, the complicated and user-unfriendly processes and length of time in issuing of our Visas have tourists travelling to destinations that require less red tape or are even Visa- free.
Important countries such as China and India have a growing and high- spending market that is large enough to warrant a focused China and India tourism strategy. However, SA Tourism has an ad hoc approach when dealing with these markets. I am encouraged and I look forward to the Minister's words and her changing this.
In the state of the nation address speech last month, President Ramaphosa stated that government has set a target, very
ambitiously, of international tourist arrivals of 21 million by the year 2030. At this rate it will be another target that has not been met - admitted as well by the Minister today.
The President stated that they will achieve this through the renewal of the country's brand including a world-class Visa regime and a significant focus on Chinese and Indian markets as they arrived at our continent. He further stated that the government is determined to ensure that tourists are safe. All these are important to make sure that the tourism targets are met.
These issues can only be resolved if Tourism works closely with the other departments and the private sector. Until there is coordination between all concerned stakeholders these issues will simply not be resolved. We will observe this with laser- focus to ensure that all this happens.
The fact that the CEO of SA Tourism has been suspended, and according to media reports, hasn't been formally charged or even personally advised of any misdemeanours is most concerning. How
is it possible that in our modern labour environment we find such practices? The Minister needs to account to us on this and needs to reach a conclusion urgently so that stability can be returned to this entity.
The Tourism Amendment Bill encourages that the Minister can specify certain thresholds for short-term home rentals. These thresholds might, but it is unclear, include limitations on the number of nights guests may stay in short-term rental, how much income the hosts may earn, or how many guests they may have in an area. The Department of Tourism justifies these thresholds on the basis that it allows everyone to get their fair share - in essence, a type of forced "redistribution of choice" from consumers who choose some hospitality providers to others.
In reality, short-term rentals like Airbnb have enabled people previously unable to make a living for themselves to do so with their existing assets. Now a family or even a grandmother in a township or a small town, for example, that the Chair of the committee was talking about and rural areas, can generate income by renting out a room in their home making them instant
entrepreneurs without having to lay out lots of capital that they do not have in the first place.
Ridesharing platforms like Uber did the same by opening a whole new market for people in the transport industry. Tourism in South Africa remains a strong economic sector which services such as Airbnb has benefited significantly by offering far greater choice in location and price to tourists, and allowing ordinary South Africans to become instant entrepreneurs.
Research in September 2018 suggested that 2 million guests have made use of Airbnb alone in South Africa since the platform started in South Africa. This translates into over R3,8 billion in revenue for hosts, and R9,9 billion in broader economic activity at the same time supporting well over 22 000 jobs.
The guests mostly wish to experience specific neighbourhoods such as townships, rural areas and the small towns that are often forgotten, meaning that location-based Airbnb regulation has the potential to undermine the entire market. Indeed, the
fastest growing destinations in the world presently are in Africa.
Given South Africa's poor economic growth trajectory now is not the time to introduce more regulation on the economy. Instead, the economy should be allowed to breathe. Entrepreneurs, particularly those in townships, must be able to be free to use their assets as revenue generators without being unduly undermined by the state. Together we can reach our common vision of growing tourism in South Africa and we are look forward to doing so. Thank you.