During the 2015/16 financial year alone SA Tourism went on a spending bonanza to splash out on their offices abroad. Expenses in the USA ran overR69 million, in the UK over R52 million, Germany over R54 million, The Netherlands almost R28 million, India over R32 million and China almost R27 million.
The staggering figures have been revealed after the DA asked the Department of Tourism to reveal what it cost to run South African Tourism (SAT)’s country offices in thirteen countries worldwide.
The DA believes that the number of SAT country offices and the high costs to run them are not warranted, given South Africa’s numerous foreign missions to these countries, resulting in duplicating tourism promotion and destination marketing costs.
The party now wants to get the Minister of Tourism, Mr Derek Hanekom to explain how he is planning to cut down on the extravagance.
The country offices are, with allocated budgets, as follows:
USA: R69 069 634
UK: R52 316 899
Germany: R54 297 239
France: R35 939 548
Netherlands: R27 687 781
Italy (to be closed in 2016/17 financial year): R14 771 183
India: R32 166 316
China: R26 617 535
Japan: R12 664 850
Australia: R33 239 550
Angola (rental agreement ending August 2016): R14 251 649
Nigeria: R25 035 247
Brazil (General Marketing Agent): R23 658 828
To cut down on expenses the DA suggests that existing foreign missions be used to focus on tourism and reallocate SAT country offices to key source markets only.
Government should follow the example of the City of Cape Town, where there is a similar tourism entity called Cape Town Tourism. City Council has reduced the entity’s budget, due to the entity’s implementation of a programme to become self-sustainable through improved and focused marketing.
At a time of high economic strain, government cannot afford to spend unnecessary money. The duplication between the functions of SA Tourism and the Department leads to millions of rands spent on redundant projects such as the country offices, bearing little or no tangible outcomes when this money should be going towards stimulating a viable tourism industry that generates jobs.