Tourism is regarded as one of major stimulants of the economy and can also be used as a driver of sustainable job creation. Many developing countries, particularly the Caribbean Islands in Asia, as well as Pacific nations, have built their economies using tourism as a bedrock. Their infrastructural projects are funded with tourism in mind. This strategy cascades through to all spheres of government, including the municipal level. It is therefore no wonder that those countries can continue to sustain job creation in their respective economies, owing to their adequately funded tourism initiatives.
With that backdrop in mind, compare our tourism board to that of other cities in South Africa alone. For instance, the Mangaung municipality in Bloemfontein with less annual budget turnover than our council, injects over R40 million into their tourism board. Whereas our tourism board is funded with a meager R11 million and expected to perform miracles of marketing our destination to international markets.
It is no secret that tourism can account for thousands of jobs, especially in the hospitality industry as well as sustaining many small enterprises in the city. Our tourism must be taken seriously and be prioritised by our senior metro officials. We are told of budgetary constraints and yet we see money being wasted on botched events and unauthorized expenditure. How many budgetary items could be more important than tourism? Tourism could help generate much needed revenue through the inevitable increased usage of rates related services.
There are various duplicate costs within the EDTA directorate such as the marketing item for other sub-directorates. Instead, this function should be reconciled under one unit in order to avoid duplicate roles and confusion.
Furthermore, other alternative revenue generators must be explored. For example, strategic events can be handed-over to the tourism board to manage and generate income for self-sustainable funding. We must also review items whose budget can be reduced in order to increase the current budget of Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism.
Therefore I will table a motion in our next Economic Development, Tourism and Agriculture committee meeting, which recommends the following:
- A report must be tabled by NMBT in conjunction with the Executive Director of Economic Development, Tourism and Agriculture (EDTA) directorate at the next meeting of EDTA committee, which explores possible revenue generating models for the purpose of additional funding for Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism in this current financial year.
- The Executive Director of EDTA, must review non-critical items within his directorate and table a report which outlines amendments on budget-items with vote numbers, this in order to increase funding to the NMBT in this financial year.