Certain parastatals could do more to provide relief to citizens who are engaged in the tourism and travel industries as they try to stem the flow of job losses and insolvencies and rebuild a viable and sustainable industry.
Speaking at the recent Parliamentary Tourism Portfolio Committee meeting, DA National Assembly Member, Hlanganani Siphelele Gumbi, proposed a number of initiatives to provide the struggling tourism sector with relief.
The MP said of all the sectors, the tourism industry had been hurt the most, and that the government had been unable to ensure that entrepreneurs in the sector were able to continue to provide services and to continue to employ people, to prevent South Africa losing jobs needlessly. “The balance has not always been struck, and sometimes South Africa has been a bit late coming to the party, in being able to feel the pain that its citizens in the sector are experiencing,” said Gumbi.
He proposed drafting a resolution for the Minister of Finance’s consideration to provide relief to the tourism sector in various forms. He proposed that airport taxes and levies for flights coming to South Africa, which brought both business travellers and tourists, should be reduced.
“Members can go back and forth about funding airlines, but the number-one thing to agree on is to reduce the amount that it costs for tourists to be able to come to South Africa. Removing a portion of the amount of taxes that are being paid would ensure that South Africa is the cheapest place tourists can come to, and when tourists think of coming to Africa, they think of South Africa first. A resolution such as this would also accelerate events such as the British and Irish Lions tour,” said Gumbi.
During the Tourism Portfolio Committee meeting, a number of attendees brought up the issue of accumulating levies that needed to be paid by tourism businesses that were not earning any income. Tourism accounts for a substantial 12,5% of locally manufactured vehicle purchases, for instance. TBCSA Chairperson, Blacky Komani, and CEO of Cullinan Holdings, Michael Tollman, both appealed to government to provide relief on vehicle licencing payments that needed to be renewed and were accumulating into large sums of money.
Gumbi proposed that the relief resolution should include further tax breaks, such as relief on levies that tourism businesses have to pay, or to write off the money that they owe to municipalities. He also suggested that relief could be extended to breaks from the Tourism Grading Council.