In his recently delivered Budget Speech, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced that funds will be allocated over the next three years to support economic growth in various programmes. Among these will be tourism promotion, with the South African Treasury making an additional R494 million available for this.
From the R494 million, R230 million will go towards the Department of Tourism to drive ‘destination development’. This will enable them to help smaller provinces ensure that their products are of an acceptable standard to create a conducive business environment.
The balance, R264 million, will be provided to South African Tourism, with R90 million being assigned to the convention sector to assist the country in competing as a host in the global market. This funding will also help drive the geographical spread of events to other parts of the country, instead of just the big three nodes – Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. The remaining R174 million will be utilised as an investment in attracting tourism from new source markets such as the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
Premier Hotels & Resorts’ Managing Director, Samuel Nassimov, says: “With ours being a national brand, it’s very exciting to hear that the provinces which haven’t traditionally been considered as tourist destinations, are now being given more of an opportunity to showcase themselves. South Africa is a naturally beautiful country and that extends beyond its more frequently visited spots.”
The Minister also stressed the need for better engagement between government, the business sector and social stakeholders. Nassimov shares: “While additional funds have been allocated for tourism, government is under pressure to cut internal costs in terms of conferencing. We have been actively engaging with Treasury as part of their process to examine how they apportion spend and procure in that space.”
Although not directly related to tourism, the Minister announced that spending on rural development (in addition to other areas of focus) would amount to nearly R30 billion by 2019/20. Nassimov states: “Some of South Africa’s best destinations are not necessarily commercialised in the typical tourism sense. They are exquisite because they are rural and off the beaten track. Whilst it may take some years for them to become commercial tourism locations, the fact that they could come to be more attractive to tourists through increased service delivery and infrastructure is fantastic. I think it will make places that are far off the traditional tourist map more accessible and give them more exposure.”
“We are proud to be a part of driving the country’s economic growth and transformation,” concludes Nassimov.