Highlights of Minister Patricia de Lille’s first 100 days in office | The Planner

Minister Patricia de Lille’s first 100 days as minister of Tourism have been busy, exciting and rewarding and she is encouraged by the passion and commitment of all stakeholders. 

Since Minister Patricia de Lille took office on 7 March, she has not been idle. In her media brief about her first 100 days she recaps how one of her first tasks was to resolve the R1 billion Tottenham deal proposed by the previous SA Tourism board. After 8 of the 11 board members of SA Tourism resigned, she dissolved the board on 21 April. She then appointed three persons to manage the affairs of SA Tourism and has announced that a new board will be in place by October 2023 after all due processes have been followed and completed. Nominations for new board members are open and interested parties are invited to apply before 6 July.

Key priorities

In April Minister De Lille signed a new performance agreement with President Cyril Ramaphosa which contains key priorities to recover and grow the tourism sector. 

  • TOUR OPERATOR LICENCES: “My first priority is to address the tour operator licences backlog and in this regard, I met with the Minister of Transport, Sindisiwe Chikunga, as tour operator licences are granted by her department. Our task is to reduce red tape and improve the turn-around time for processing tour operator licence applications and renewals. By 12 April 2023, the tour operator licence backlog stood at 418; this was down from the initial backlog of over 1 000 licence applications last year. “
  • e-VISAS: South Africa initially rolled out the e-visa system to 14 countries and visitors from an additional 20 countries can now apply for e-visas. South Africa also has visa waivers for most countries across the world including SADC countries where no visa is required for periods of between 30 and 90 days.  “In early March, I met with Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, regarding the challenges with processing visas and he undertook to increase the visa adjudication capacity and to enhance the e-visa system. Capacity was increased with an additional 18 people deployed to the e-visa hub. Minister Motsoaledi indicated that this increased capacity would allow the e-visa hub to process up to 300 e-visas a day.”
  • TOURISM EQUITY FUND (TEF): The drafting of the improved TEF application criteria is being finalised in consultation with the MECs for Tourism and the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA). “We are now finalising the concept and criteria for applications to the Tourism Equity Fund within the existing BBBEE legislation and the Tourism BBBEE Codes. This will unblock R1.42 billion in funding to facilitate accelerated sector transformation. It is anticipated that the revised TEF concept and implementation process will be tabled to Cabinet for approval in July 2023.”
  • TOURISM INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT: The fourth priority is to create enabling conditions for a visitor experience through infrastructure development. The target is maintenance and upgrade of tourism infrastructure.
  • TOURISM SAFETY: Minister De Lille insists that government and the private sector need to work together on solutions and actions that will make South Africa safer for tourists and locals alike. ‘We are also finalising discussions on partnerships with the private sector on the use of technologies and apps to enhance safety for local and international tourists. We will be launching the Secura Tourist Safety App, an initiative by the private sector in July.” A list of 59 hotspot areas were identified by provinces and the industry and 2 215 Tourism Safety Monitors are to be deployed by the Department of Tourism to these tourist hotspot areas where they will work with the SA police to enhance safety measures. 
  • INCREASING THE VOLUME AND VALUE OF DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL TOURISM: SA Tourism, whose role is to market South Africa as a top tourist destination, has already implemented a number of strategic marketing initiatives this year, including Freedom Day celebrations in New York, days after South African jazz legend, Hugh Masekela was inducted into Lincoln Centre Jazz Hall of Fame. At the highly successful Africa Travel Indaba in May the department funded the participation and exhibition space of 122 SMEs from across the country to showcase their tourism offerings and businesses. The Department of Tourism also funded the participation of 30 SMEs at World Travel Market Africa in April held in Cape Town which saw travel buyers and investors from all over the world attend the trade show. 
  • TOURISM SECTOR MASTER PLAN: The final priority is the conversion of the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan, adopted by Cabinet in March 2021, to the Tourism Sector Master Plan. 
Contributor to economic growth and job creation 

Minister De Lille intends to work with all stakeholders to take tourism to the next level with urgency. She is committed to working with everyone, including the department, local and provincial tourism departments and associations and the private sector, to see tourism truly take its place as a significant contributor to economic growth and job creation. “I will undertake a number of site visits to strategic sites to demonstrate progress or to assist in unblocking projects which are not moving fast enough,” she concludes.