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 and the Pacific nations, have built their economies using tourism as the 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 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 the NMB 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 more than R40-million into its tourism board. Whereas our tourism board is funded with a meagre 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 unauthorised 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 economic development, tourism and agriculture (EDTA) directorate such as the marketing item for other sub-directorates.
Instead, this function should be reconciled under one unit 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 (NMBT). Therefore I will table a motion in our next economic development, tourism and agriculture committee meeting, which recommends:
- A report must be tabled by NMBT in conjunction with the executive director of the EDTA directorate at the next meeting of the EDTA committee, which explores possible revenue generating models for additional funding for NMBT in this financial year; and
- The executive director of EDTA must review non-critical items within his directorate and table a report which outlines amendments on budget items to increase funding to the NMBT in this financial year.
Knight Mali, DA councillor spokesman, economic development, tourism and agriculture, Nelson Mandela Bay metro