A proper functioning collective private sector is something we have been working towards for over five years. This has certainly not been in place and, in its absence, SATSA has had to, on key issues, assume a solo leadership role.
It has often been a lonely path for SATSA, which has in the past received scant support from the industry’s umbrella body, the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA).
Issues at the TBCSA have now been resolved. SATSA has worked tirelessly to remedy this, together with our some of our fellow board members. We have a new Chairman, Blacky Komani (Deputy COO of Tourvest), who is from the industry and who understands the industry and can thus speak on behalf of the industry with authority. The chairman has put really good processes in place with a clear board strategy. Most importantly, we now also have a new dynamic CEO in the person of Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa.
As SATSA, one of the fundamental affiliate associations, we are now able to progress member issues through the TBCSA with greater gravitas and authority brought to bear.
That doesn’t mean we can take the foot off the pedal. Rather, that we are part of a far more formidable and effective elective than we have been in the past.
Under the umbrella of the TBCSA we will continue to address the issue of getting bottlenecks resolved such as the requirement for Unabridged Birth Certificates, lengthy and onerous visa processes, vehicle licensing, etc.
This battle has been taken very effectively to the media, with several articles published recently and interviews held on radio:
I am also deeply honoured to have been recently appointed to the South African Tourisn Board. I have huge respect for the team at SA Tourism and the great work they do.
As a board member, I will see to foster closer synergies with the private sector around practical growth initiatives that will amplify and enhance the current organizational strategy.
Also important for our members to note is the exciting opportunity that exists around the Tourism Collaboration Fund which is a joint fund between the TBCSA and SA Tourism. The fund ringfences a portion of the TOMSA levy to fund collective priority growth initiatives from the tourism sector that seek to enhance the country’s competitiveness while concomitantly driving inclusive growth.
SATSA, in conjunction with the TBCSA, will be on a major drive to increase the number of private-sector contributors to the TOMSA levy. If we, as private sector, are not able to increase our levy contribution, there is a real danger that government will impose a legislated tourism levy on all tourism businesses. This means we will have no say on what happens to that levy. The funds collected will simply disappear onto the fiscus with no connection or benefit to tourism.
While our industry remains under pressure, it is really exciting to see that we are getting acknowledgement at the highest levels of the role that tourism can play in resuscitating the economy at a macro level.