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Remarks by Mr. Fish Mahlalela, Deputy Minister of Tourism at the Khayelitsha Stakeholder Engagement

Programme Director
Deputy Ministers
Councillors in our midst
Senior Managers from both National and Provincial governments
Ladies and Gentlemen
Sizwe sakithi

Mphathi wehlelo, mangindlulise amazwi wokubonga ngibingelele wonke umuntu okhona phakathi kwethu, Sibonge inhlonipho nelungelo enisipha lona namuhla ukuba sikhulume nani.

Kulonyaka siguba iminyaka engamashumi amathathu wenkululeko kunye nohulumeni weningi, yilokhu okhokho bethu bakulwela abanye baze balahlekelwa yizimpilo zabo, ngalokho ngiyathanda ukuthi singakubukeli phansi ukukhululeka kwethu, engcindezelweni yombuso wokuqala.

Let me appreciate the great opportunity of sharing these few remarks here in Khayelitsha, which is a one of the largest townships in this country as well as the Western Cape Province.

Tourism provides enormous potential to create linkages with other sectors and dynamize other sectors of the economy – agriculture, manufacturing and services. Hence, we are all here.

In other words, tourism touches every part of our lives, it maybe food, security, sport, labour and economy, hence we brought two of our Deputy Ministers to come here and talk top you about how tourism can be part of job creation, how can it be vibrant business that can enhance our economy and lastly why must we create safer environment for our tourists.

From the tourism perspective, the Township of Khayelitsha is strategically located along the N2 national road that links Cape Town with one of the most popular tourism routes, the Garden Route.

In the 2018 State of the Nation Address, President Ramaphosa stated, I quote,

“Tourism is another area which provides our country with incredible opportunities to, quite literally, shine. Tourism currently sustains 700 000 direct jobs and is performing better than most other growth sectors. There is no reason why it can’t double in size. We have the most beautiful country in the world and we are the most hospitable people. South Africans should open their hearts, huts and rondavels to our tourists.”

The President made this declaration about the potential of the tourism sector to double its size, two years before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic that devastated our sector as well as other sectors of the economy. In 2019, the tourism sector employed 777 000, which was 77 000 more than the people employed in 2018.

As indicated earlier, 2020 was not a good year for the tourism sector with 454 000 people directly employed in the sector, which was 58 percent of the 2019 figures. 2021 witnessed some improvement with 492 000 people directly employed in the sector, which was 63 percent of the 2019 figures.

With the easing of restrictions aimed at curbing the impact of the pandemic, 2022 saw a surge in employment in the sector, almost reaching the 2019 figures at 733 000, which was 94 percent. This means in 2022, one in 21 employed individuals worked in the tourism sector.

By 2023, the sector had fully recovered from the pandemic, which brings us back to the challenge set by the President in 2018, this is, when he said, I quote again, there is no reason why the sector cannot double its size.

The doubling of the size of the tourism sector will have a positive effect on other sectors of the economy as the 1996 Tourism White Paper stated that “Tourism generates demand and production in other sectors of the South African economy.” This means when the tourism sector grows and we attract more tourists, we will need more cars, more linen, more vegetables, more fruits, more furniture, more wine, more eggs, and more of almost everything.

The Deputy Minister, ubaba uCassel Mathabe has alluded and spoke largely about crime preventing strategy of our communities including our tourists, so to enable our tourism sector to double.

The number of work opportunities created in National Parks indicates that out 240 opportunities 131 were offered to young people whereas 125 were for women and 15 for people who are differently abled.

We need a huge improvement in work opportunities created for Nature Reserves, where out 39 work opportunities, 11 went to the youth and there was nothing for women and differently abled people.

Our Deputy Minister, umama uBoitumelo Moloi has articulated well the strategies for her department to create more job opportunities in this area.

Both the Department and Province have invested a lot of money here in Cape town in trying to boost the tourism with a view of improving economy so that we can absorb many our people in the job market. I hope you heard the presentations.

As the Department of Tourism, we have responded to this clarion call by investing in infrastructure such as the Look Out Hill here in Khayelitsha. We have also invested resources in the Wolwekloof Nature Reserve within the City of Cape Town and as part of our Tourism Infrastructure Maintenance Programme, invested resources in the Table Mountain National Park, which is one of the major attractions in the country. Khayelitsha Lookout Hill is also located a few kilometres, this is, about 14km from the Cape Town International Airport.  

Why does all this information matter for Khayelitsha as well as other townships in Cape Town, the Western Cape and the country at large? What can we do to ensure that we respond to the President’s clarion call to double the size of the tourism sector? It all starts by understanding the needs of our visitors, this is, what does our visitors or tourists want? Once, we have a sense of what the visitors what, we then have to ensure that the destination can cater for those needs through putting together experiences that the tourists want.

For the Khayelitsha to be competitive, it needs to focus on the following issues: attractions (what is there to see or do?), access (how to get there), accommodation (where to stay?), amenities (are services required by the tourists available, this is services such as internet connectivity, shops, etc.), and finally, awareness (do locals appreciate the value that tourists bring to their localities, how do you treat tourists when they visit your destination). If we get all these things right, there is no reason, as the President stated in 2018, that the tourism sector cannot double its size. We, therefore, all have a role to play.

To be successful, we need to get insights, mainly from our destination marketing organisation, South Africa Tourism, insights that will inform us about the needs of these tourists. SA Tourism works closely with provincial tourism marketing organisations such as Wesgro here in the Western Cape as well as Cape Town tourists. With those insights, residents of townships such as Khayelitsha should then work harder to respond to those needs and package experiences needed by our visitors.

You already have tour operators such as Siviwe Tours that specialises in guided tours of townships in Cape Town as well as the City Sightseeing that does the tours of townships such as Langa (the oldest township in Cape Town) as well as Gugulethu and Khayelitsha. Have we reached our full potential in terms of exposing tourists that visit Cape Town to township experiences that will complement what places such as the Winelands, the Table Mountain National Park, the nightlife of Cape Town, the golf courses as well as other attractions and activities?

Safety of our visitors or lack of it has been highlighted as a deterrent to visiting our townships as well as the country in general. To double our visitor numbers from 10.5 million to 21 million – we need to expand our offerings and experiences by adding more products and services that will ensure that when tourists visit our townships, they stay longer and spend more and more importantly come back.

As Government we working with our key stakeholders to make significant strides in assisting tourism businesses to respond to the needs of the visitors by capitalising the Tourism Transformation Fund (TTF), the Green Tourism Incentive Programme, the Market Access Support Programme, the Tourism Grading Support Programme as well as interventions like the Expanded Public Works Programme.

It is through, partnerships that we will be able to achieve those objectives. Collaboration between the Government, private sector and communities is non-negotiable. To develop products that respond to the needs of tourists local communities need to collaborate with strategic partners from other areas and ensure that during those partnerships, there are learnings.

Let’s work together in ensuring that this region generates wealth for future generations by ensuring that we capture the value brought about by our visitors. Together we can definitely do more.

I thank you.