The year 2014 marked two important milestones for South Africa. We celebrated 20 years of democracy and held our fifth successful general elections, testimony to this landmark achievement.
In addition the travel and tourism industry recorded its own significant milestones. Globally, indicators pointed to the growing stature of travel and tourism in the world economy. Locally, the sectors’ overall GDP contribution rose to 9.5%, injecting a total of R323.0bn into economy at a time when other sectors, in pareticular mining and manufacturing, which have traditionally been the mainstay of the economy, were experiencing deeply ingrained challenges.
During the period under review participation at the Indaba tourism exhibition was, for the first time ever, open to the rest of the African continent, signalling the evolution of the tourism Indaba into a pan-African trade show. Then there was the arrival of a competing trade show, challenging the status quo and testing the market’s appetite for an additional trade show. Industry will naturally be studying the new paradigm the better to arrive at an informed decision as to how best their interests will be served.
Industry welcomed the appointment of Derek Hanekom as the new Minister of Tourism following the May general elections. He didn’t disappoint, moving with speed to meet the TBCSA and tourism sector leaders to familiarize himself with the sector. The series of engagements between the Minister, accompanied by his senior team from the National Department of Tourism, and key industry players and associations have been most productive. The more significant of these centred on the implications of two pieces of legislation intreoduced by the Department of Home Affairs regarding immigration.
According to the new regulations, all children under 18 years of age entering or leaving the country will be required to carry a copy of their unabridged birth certificates. Secondly, the new laws require nationals of countries for which South Africa requires a visa on entry to visit a SA foreign mission for biometric visa processing prior to departure from their country of residence. Additionally the requirement is that originals or authenticated copies of sworn translated affidavits from the non-travelling parent(s)/guardian be provided for under -18s travelling with only one or no parents/guardians from such countries.
It is common cause that there are enormous unintended consequences attendant to these pieces of legislation. The TBCSA held several discussions with Home Affairs that resulted in the institution of a 12- month moratorium on the implementation of the unabridged birth certificates requirement. Discussions with the Department continue on these and related matters continue.
Empowerment and transformation necessarily remain on front burner. Through our membership of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) we have seen our members actively engaging and sharing their views on the revision of the BBB-EE by the Department of Trade and Industry. We know that a lot of work still needs to be done and we will continue to provide advice and leadership for the sector in this area.
I am happy to report that TBCSA enjoys the confidence of, and good relations with South African Tourism, the Department of Tourism and the Minister. TBCSA fulfills the appreciated role of being the voice of the tourism and trade industry and an important contributor to the marketing of South Africa as a prime tourism destination. To this end the importance of work done by TOMSA cannot be overstated.
Looking ahead to 2015, members can expect to see a revamped and more focussed TBCSA.
In closing, I would like to thank CEO Mmatšatši Ramawela and her management team for their able administration of the affairs of the organization. My gratitude also goes to the TOMSA and TBCSA Boards for their active involvement and support throughout the year. Not least, a BIG THANK YOU goes to our tourism levy contributors and to all businesses directly and indirectly affiliated to the TBCSA. I am confident that 2015 will be better than the previous year.