eKasi and rural tourism 'failing under ANC since 1994': Supra Mahumapelo
Tourism portfolio committee chairperson Supra Mahumapelo said on Wednesday that the economic potential of tourism in eKasi (townships) and villages had not been taken seriously since the ANC government came into power 26 years ago.
Mahumapelo was addressing a meeting of the legislative tourism oversight forum (Letofo), which comprises members of his committee and those of tourism committees at all nine provincial legislatures.
He said lip service, as far as unleashing the economic potential of tourism in villages, was the order of the day. Even worse, he added, government spending on tourism, particularly at local level, was a joke.
Until this attitude changed, he said, the tourism industry would continue to suffocate while unemployment among the youth rose.
“When you look at budgets of municipalities, tourism is not given the necessary attention,” said Mahumapelo. “When you look at the existence of establishments in villages, townships and small towns as far as infrastructure capable of igniting tourism, they are almost non-existent.
“When you look at funding in South Africa, for the past 26 years, funding for tourism in South Africa has been skewed. It has been favouring big cities which is your Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Pretoria,” he added.
“So we have not made much progress in changing the status quo. We are also struggling in parliament to get information directly from the ground on tourism activities.
“That is why we must work hard in this oversight forum which will help us make sure we have presence in every village, in every small town and every township throughout South Africa.”
Mahumapelo said the lack of detailed data on tourism was not helping government planning.
Where tourism potential was not fully exploited, opportunities for job creation and the economic development of rural areas were missed.
To have the tourism economy overwhelmingly concentrated in three provinces, namely Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, was unsustainable, he said.
Mahumapelo gave his provincial counterparts a deadline to submit a list of all villages, informal settlements and townships that exist within the country and potential tourism for each. This would help in formulating a single national integrated tourism strategy for the country, the committee unanimously agreed.
Said Mahumapelo: “We will continue to work with the national house of traditional leaders as people who are responsible for matters of villages.”