ADDRESS BY Mr LB Gaehler MP – EC in the National NCOP
Hon Chairperson, Ministers and Members
The United Democratic Movement supports budget vote number 33 on tourism.
- In this regard, we welcome the efforts and work done by the department and many other role players in ensuring that this country remains a destination of choice for many citizens of world. This is notwithstanding socio economic challenges that the country continue to be confronted which in many instances results to inhuman and barbaric acts by criminal elements within our communities.
- We also note with regret that more than 90 percent of tourism activities in the country are limited to the three economic centers of the country (Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban). This means beneficiation from this industry is limited to the urban part of the country thus excluding the majority of the unemployed and poor, who are found in the extreme rural areas of our land.
- The further UDM notes and welcome the commitment by the department to its focus shift towards expanding the tourism scope. However, this shift must not reduce the beneficiation currently enjoyed by urban areas, instead, more investment must be towards rural areas whilst strategically empowering the urban tourism to sustain itself through proper management and diversification.
- The niche for rural tourism is its heritage. The department has already made a clear case for this as paradigm shift and we support that.
- There are many iconic attractions in our rural areas and we must take advantage of this and maximise its strategic role on tourism.
- Our wildlife, fascinating history, natural beauty and culture are major and primary tourist attractions and we need to grow them into global iconic places and experiences.
- Heritage must be at centre of rural economic development and for the realisation of this programmes, a collaborative effort between all key stakeholders like, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the Economic Cluster and well as the Local Sphere of governance is the pre-requirement.
- Accordingly, the department must invest on heritage knowledge working together with other relevant stakeholders.
- Total implementation of the National Rural Tourism Strategy, the National Heritage and Cultural Tourism Strategy and the National Tourism Sector Strategy as policy tools that the department has in its position can no longer be postponed.
- Through consistent and aggressive implementation of these tools and working together with the rural citizens, will ensure that the department plays its critical role in the fight against poverty, unemployment and inequality.
The department must not fail in this historic task.