During the 2015/16 financial year, SA Tourism’s country offices cost a total of R422 million (€25m) – a bill that needs to be reviewed, says DA Shadow Minister of Tourism, James Vos.
In a statement this week, Vos said the figures had been provided the Department of Tourism in response to a written question.
“The DA believes that the number of SA Tourism 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,” Vos said in a statement.
According to the figures, SA Tourism’s most costly country offices abroad are the US at R69m (€4m), the UK at R52m (€3m), Germany at R54m (€3.1m) and France at R36m (€2m). India costs R32m (€1.9m) and China R27m (€1.6m).
“At a time of high economic strain, government cannot afford to spend unnecessary money,” said Vos. “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.”
Vos suggested that use of existing foreign missions be made, with country offices in key source markets only and that country offices be strategically combined in appropriate geographic locations. This is something the department has already committed to doing as part its recent review.
Since publication, SA Tourism has clarified that the budget Vos refers to is the total in-country budget, which covers all marketing activities as well as overheads. "The majority of the figures quoted by Mr Vos are the funds deployed in country for marketing and trade activities, SA Tourism’s core mandate," said SA Tourism.