Dear Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane
Minister of Tourism
Thank you for the opportunity to ask questions. I look forward to watching and hearing your answers and your discussion with the tourism industry at 12h30 today.
I’d like to know who your advisors are because, if your decisions on tourism are based on ideology, you will be leading the entire tourism industry to the same fate as the once-great South African Airways. (And all SAA’s staff is facing the end of the week knowing their jobs are over, forever.) Tourism is a business. Ideologies are not.
Gillian Saunders, a well-respected tourism analyst who was advisor to the previous minister, forecast that tourism will lose 1.1 million jobs in South Africa as a result of government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. That’s 75% of all jobs in tourism will be lost. That is a calamitous figure. The industry as we know it will no longer exist.
Saunders also said, “Governments worldwide may have miscalculated the economic impacts of their containment measures when it comes to tourism.”
Her forecast was based on a pandemic with an active period of three months. The SA government’s lockdown has flattened the curve and government has announced that the peak will only be in September. So the three months becomes seven months and the damage to the industry will be all that much greater.
Your only action has been the establishment of the Tourism Relief Fund with R200 million. Now that’s really pathetic and almost meaningless for an industry that contributes R130 billion to the GDP!
Near the beginning of March you said “We do not have the resources to offset the damage that our economy will suffer because of this crisis.
“The question is what is it that we need to do, together, in the short to medium term to minimise the impact of the virus on the tourism sector? Given the uncertainty around the evolution of the spread of this virus, we cannot at this moment provide definitive answers.”
Nothing seems to have changed. Your advisors have failed you.
So here’s a suggestion… surely the survival of the industry is more important than the activities of a marketing agency and a government department?
SA Tourism’s budget is R3.8 billion a year and the National Department of Tourism’s budget is R2.5 billion. Both could be closed down for a year, staff paid 50% of their salaries to sit at home, and you’ll have a few billion rand left over to safeguard industry jobs.
You have not been representing or fighting for the interests of the industry in government.
The Finance Minister has said that since Tourism will be the last to start, it won’t need its budget which can therefore be reallocated. Surely this will make the Tourism Ministry redundant?