Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on Africa in Durban, Xasa spelt out her plans to transform the industry which she said was a catalyst for economic growth with 700000 direct jobs.
“Tourism is strategically placed when we talk about economic growth.
"That is why it continues to show growth in terms of contribution to the gross domestic product.
"We are growing and we continue to be a resilient sector. The government has the Nine-Point Plan which is derived from the National Development Plan and identifies those growing sectors of the economy.
“We are looking at how we can implement radical economic transformation through various interventions. So the transformation of the industry becomes key. How can we ensure that more South Africans are part of the industry? We have been saying that the industry has not transformed,” said Xasa.
She said the government’s focus has previously been on the jobs created.
But to change the ownership patterns in the industry, it had become necessary to prioritise investment in small, medium and micro-sized enterprises.
“Otherwise we will not be able to give our people ownership.”
Xasa said the government had looked at the impact of the skills development programme which she said had been running for years.
“We have been running a number of programmes such as tourism buddies, training tourist guides and food safety assurers.
"But we want to go back to the industry, because the skills being developed were agreed upon with the industry. We appreciate that they continue to open platforms for training. But there has been minimal commitment to absorb them. We want the industry to absorb these skills.”
She said prior to the start of the skills development programme, the industry had raised concerns about lack of interest in tourism by South Africans.
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“So over the years we have trained the people and they are doing very well. But the level of absorption is unsatisfactory.”
Xasa said the industry should incorporate South Africans and open opportunities for young entrepreneurs who could supply goods and services.
She said the department had an enterprise development programme “where we have more than 6 000 small enterprises.
"The problem is that there has been no platform for these enterprises to grow within the industry. The enterprises that have gone through the programme should enter the tourism value chain.”
Xasa also cited funding as among the problems that entrepreneurs faced.