Published on : Friday, August 22, 2014
The Tourism Business Council of South Africa is due to meet with the KwaZulu-Natal Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Economic Development and Tourism, Michael Mabuyakhulu, to discuss the proposed plans for the province to introduce a 10% hospitality levy in 2015.
On Monday, the Business Day newspaper reported that the MEC announced these plans during his budget speech in the KZN legislature. The newspaper states that the levy is meant to fund the province’s efforts to secure bids for hosting international events and conferences. Following a brief discussion with both the CEOs of SA Tourism and KZN Tourism Authority on the sidelines of the SAACI (Southern African Association for the Conference Industry) conference held in St. Lucia in northern KwaZulu-Natal, TBCSA wrote to the MEC to express concerns about the proposal and to request a meeting for engagement on the matter.
TBCSA CEO, MmatSatSi Ramawela expressed her surprise at the news, saying this was particularly distressing since the industry had already adopted the Tourism Levy South Africa (TOMSA) as the official levy collection mechanism. In addition, she was concerned that the MEC made the announcement prior to discussing this with the travel trade, with whom he has strong ties.
Marc Corcoran, President of the Southern African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (SAVRALA) expressed similar sentiments, saying he was disappointed that no prior discussion took place with the organized tourism private sector which already contributes over R100m to South African Tourism (SAT), through TOMSA. SAT markets the country internationally and also promotes domestic tourism which includes the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
The National Accommodation Association of South Africa (NAA-SA) amongst other TBCSA member associations and concerned industry stakeholders have also expressed their concerns on the Province’s plans.
TOMSA is a private sector initiative which was established in 1998 with the support of SA Tourism and the then Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and it contributes to the funding of SA Tourism’s destination marketing initiatives. This includes the work done by SA Tourism’s National Convention Bureau (SANCB) which is charged with promoting South Africa as a business tourism destination.
Historically, only three sectors contributed to TOMSA – the tour operators, accommodation and car rental. However, in the past two years there has been a strong push for all businesses across the travel and tourism chain to support the initiative, with the aim of increasing TOMSA’s overall contribution.