Fresh from his election as chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism, Supra Mahumapelo has set the transformation of this sector as one of his priorities.
“Tourism is something that is very close to my heart,” the former premier of the North West told the media after his election on Tuesday.
“But the reality, globally and also in South Africa, is indicating that tourism is a very, very important pillar of the economy which we are going to push much harder.”
He said one of the focus areas of the committee must be how they hold the executive accountable for using tourism to eradicate poverty in villages, townships and small towns – or “small dorpies ” as he likes to call it in Afrikaans.
“When you look at StatsSA, the embeddedness and pronouncement of poverty are in the villages, and the townships and the small towns – that is the small dorpies . So that is where we need to channel our resources to.”
He said the second issue he wants to look at is the transformation of the tourism sector.
“The tourism sector is one of the [most] stubborn-nest sectors to transform in this country. So, we’ll not be fighting anybody, we’ll not be chasing anybody. But we’ll take the facts and put them on the table, that are issued by StatsSA and all relevant institutions globally and here in the country. And by not fighting anyone, by saying how do we work together to overcome the slow pace of transformation in the tourism sector, because, it is pathetic.”
Mahumapelo said South Africa’s demographics are very clear.
“The number of black people and Africans is very low within the tourism sector. So without pushing our white compatriots away, who are already in the tourism sector, we will have to come together, and say: ‘What is the best solution under the circumstances?’ “
He said they must ensure to use tourism to build a non-racial South Africa.
“…But by not pushing other people to the periphery. But by agreeing that we have a problem and we must find a solution as the people of this country – black, Indian, whites, coloureds, all of us. We must come together.”
However, he said they should not be hypocritical by running away from the truth.
“And one of the truths of this country is that we remain un-transformed in this particular sector.”
“But most importantly, in the villages and townships, there are associations of people there, who are in their own smallenyana operations and so on. We’ll have to say ‘how do you work with them, how do you push them forward?”