CAPE TOWN - Support and funding to drive small, micro- and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs) is among the top issues that the tourism sector hopes Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba will address when delivering the National Budget later today.
Corporate communications manager at the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), Kagiso Mosue said, in response to questions from Business Report, that SMME development was critical to advance the broader objective of transforming the tourism sector and advance the momentum through incentives, among other tools, to ensure that small and emerging tourism businesses had access to market and develop become tomorrow’s big businesses.
Cape Town Tourism chief executive, Enver Duminy, shared the same sentiment saying the SMME sector was of major importance to South Africa’s economy, and tourism was an ideal environment for SMMEs to flourish. “We’d welcome any form of support that can be provided for emerging businesses.”
Also on the sector’s wish list, according to Mosue, is more funding for destination marketing as well as a more travel and tourism friendly tax regime.
She said it was important to remember that the sector operated in an environment, where its rand-dominated funds had to stretch far to reach tourists from all over the world – more often from countries whose currencies were far stronger than the rand.
“Secondly,” said Mosue, “as more and more destinations globally are recognising the value of tourism, it’s getting more competitive both at a regional and international level, hence the need for more funding.
“Looking at past budget allocations for travel and tourism, one might be mistaken to think that we don’t need funding.”
She said a more travel and tourism friendly tax regime was particularly important when one considered debates around VAT concerning tour operators and travel agencies.
Cape Town Tourism’s Duminy said the sector was looking forward to opportunities for collaboration and growth, particularly between the government and the industry, as well as support for citizens looking to work in the sector.
“Since this was referred to by President Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation address (Sona), we’d like to hear more of the measures in place that will allow for multistakeholder engagement. We would also like to see a strong focus on SMME development, as developing new products is essential to keeping the tourism sector fresh and relevant and contributing to further job creation,” he said.
Duminy said when it came to weathering the drought the sector hoped to hear that government was going to be working towards boosting the country’s capacity to harvest water from multiple sources and assisting businesses and individuals in both accessing water and reducing water usage. “We must continue to market our beautiful country, so all resources and efforts made in this regard are valuable, whether through trade and industry meetings or via direct support.”
TBCSA’s Mosue said governance and the judicial use of financial resources was also a critical issue. “In line with the recent Sona, the Budget speech should really provide more details about measures to be taken to address issues of governance in the public sector to ensure proper and prudent deployment of resources. In the end that’s what we want as businesses – to know that the income that is generated will be used efficiently, which will, in turn, benefit the sector.”
- BUSINESS REPORT