The statistics came to light in Parliament when the Minister of Tourism, Derek Hannekom, responded to questions posed to him by the Democratic Alliance (DA).
The DA will now call on the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism, Beatrice Ngcobo, to summon the Director-General of the National Department of Tourism (NDT) to appear before the Portfolio Committee to clarify the reasons for such a decline and what plans will be made to to stimulate domestic tourism numbers.
Domestic tourism numbers and revenue have fallen from 25.4 million trips in 2012 to 19.8 million trips in 2014. Revenue dropped from R21.8 billion in 2012 to R18.5 billion in 2014.
The Department of Tourism’s Domestic Tourism Growth Strategy 2012 – 2020 states that the biggest inhibiting factor to domestic tourism is the perception that travel is not affordable. The most recent Department strategic plan suggests that issues such as affordability and limited geographic spread must be addressed, but there does not seem to be any urgency to implement it. The NDT must account for this failure.
The DA believes any strategy should espouse a closer working relationship between SA Tourism and industry stakeholders such as travel agents, airlines and hotel groups. To address the objectives of increasing domestic tourism revenue and volumes, I will present the following proposals to the Portfolio Committee:
- A focus on existing tourist attractions and products in order to effectively increase their use; and
- An audit of the current tourism products and services must be done to ascertain adequate supply for the various segments of the domestic market and also to facilitate the development of effective maintenance plans for existing tourism infrastructure under government’s administration.
The NDT must improve product development and marketing, investment in rural infrastructure, but more importantly, there needs to be a policy shift to get South Africans experiencing their own country by making travel affordable and accessible as this will grow local economy’s and create jobs.