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14 February 2013

Tourism Bill seeks to create enabling environment for growth

South African Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk presented the Department of Tourism’s Tourism Bill 2012 to the government’s tourism portfolio committee on 12 February 2013.

Marthinus van Schalkwyk, South Africa's Minister of Tourism Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk

The vision for the national Department of Tourism is to be a catalyst for tourism growth and development in South Africa. The introduction of this Bill will further add to our achievements in fulfilling this vision. – Marthinus van Schalkwyk, South African minister of tourism

South African Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk presented the Department of Tourism’s new Tourism Bill to the government’s tourism portfolio committee on 12 February 2013.

Van Schalkwyk highlighted the importance of the bill in replacing spontaneous creation and application of "non-legislative rules" and in developing a set of rules that were enforceable and applicable to all.

‘This will create an enabling environment for future growth and development,’ he told the committee.  

The Tourism Bill, when promulgated, will repeal the Tourism Act of 1993 and its subsequent amendments, which Van Schalkwyk said fell short of being an overarching national legislative framework for the management of tourism in the country.

‘The Tourism Act of 1993 did not support the implementation of the 1996 tourism White Paper – the Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa – and its broader policy framework. That White Paper was drafted specifically to provide such a framework and guidelines for tourism development,’ he said. He added that gaps eventually also became apparent in the White Paper.

The main aim in drafting the Tourism Bill, said Van Schalkwyk, was to provide for the development and promotion of sustainable tourism for the social, economic and environmental benefit of South Africa’s citizens.

‘The Bill provides an effective legislative framework for the drafting of policies and strategies that will enhance the performance of the tourism sector far into the future,’ he said.

Its key objectives are to promote the practice of responsible tourism; provide for the effective marketing of South Africa domestically and internationally; promote quality tourism products and services; encourage growth and development in the sector; and advance effective intergovernmental relations in developing and managing tourism.

To this end, the Tourism Bill includes the National Tourism Sector Strategy as part of the legislative framework for the management and development of tourism. It makes provision for the establishment of a convention bureau by South African Tourism, the South African National Convention Bureau, which is already operational.

In the bill, the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) is established as a statutory entity responsible for quality assurance of tourism products, services and facilities. The bill expands the TGCSA’s mandate. It also provides for the minister to determine a grading system and assign the oversight role and functions of the TGCSA to the National Department of Tourism, the board of South African Tourism, or any other suitable body in compliance with the Public Finance Management Act.

The Tourism Bill also provides for knowledge and information management, monitoring and evaluation and makes provision for the calling for information from tourism businesses.

‘This is aimed at fostering better understanding of the sector and at improving decision making,’ explained Van Schalkwyk. The provision of information is voluntary, and allows for incentives for businesses who participate.

Provision is also made for the issuing of norms and standards to standardise the management and development of tourism. The bill also provides for the determination of codes of good practice as guidelines for the management of tourism.
 
‘The vision for the National Department of Tourism is to be a catalyst for tourism growth and development in South Africa. The introduction of this bill will further add to our achievements in fulfilling this vision,’ he concluded.