The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) has expressed concern regarding the announcement by the Minister of Sports and Recreation, Fikile Mbalula, to revoke the privilege of specific sports federations to host and bid for major international tournaments.
The Council is concerned about the potential impact this decision could have on South Africa’s travel and tourism industry – particularly when it comes to inbound tourist arrival growth.
On Monday, the Minister announced a decision to revoke the right of Athletics South Africa (ASA), Cricket South Africa (CSA), Netball South Africa (NSA) and South African Rugby Union (SARU) to host and bid for major international tournaments, with immediate effect, as a consequence of these federations not meeting their own set transformation targets.
TBCSA chief executive officer, Mmatšatši Ramawela, said: “While we appreciate the reasons behind this decision and respect the Minister’s prerogative to take such a stance, we remain concerned about the unintended consequences this may have on inbound tourism to South Africa and the broader economy”.
The Minister’s announcement comes at a time when there is talk of a possible credit downgrade for the country and rating agencies are looking for positive actions from Government that speak to how economic growth will be achieved. In addition, the travel and tourism sector is just beginning to show signs of recovery following a difficult two-year period.
While the Council notes that the Minister’s decision will reviewed in a year’s time, it urges all the parties involved to address this issue amicably. “It is not for us to dictate to the Minister how the issue of transformation in sports should be addressed or what punitive measures to apply where targets are not met by the various sports federations,” Ms Ramawela said. “However, given that sports events are a key driver of inbound tourism, we believe that the Minister, as part of Government, should reconsider his decision taking into account the possible negative consequences for sectors such as travel and tourism.”
The Council says that while it appreciates the Minister’s firm stance, the issue of ensuring inclusive growth and transformation, be it in sports, travel and tourism or any other facet of the economy is something that requires focus and ongoing attention.
“Addressing the economic imbalances of the past is not an easy task – there are no quick fixes,” Ms Ramawela said. “Even in the travel and tourism sector, we have our own set of unique challenges when it comes to transformation. Thus, in all efforts to address this critical principle of our society, we still encourage that a balanced approach be adopted.”
TBCSA recently hosted an industry workshop on the issue of achieving inclusive growth and transformation in the travel and tourism sector. The outcomes of the workshop will be taken forward into the Council’s engagements with the National Department of Tourism (with whom it is collaborating) and the Tourism BEE Council as part of a broad industry initiative to advance the sector’s transformation agenda.
“With regard to the Sports and Recreation Minister’s decision, we have already made contact with our counterparts in Government and expressed our concerns. We look forward to having discussions with SA Tourism and the National Department of Tourism in this regard to find ways in which our sector can better respond to this decision, possibly with data to back our concerns. Furthermore, we will be doing our homework to better understand the likely implications of this decision on our sector in the short-to medium term. In the meantime, we reiterate our call for all the parties involved to meet and engage further on this issue in the interest of sports, travel and tourism and the country as a whole.”