YOUNG TOURISM

Youth development in tourism can help benefit all stakeholders in the sector.

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In a statement on the state of tourism to all South Africa's tourism stakeholders, South African Youth in Travel, Tourism & Hospitality's General Secretary, Nesang Maleka, says the organisation notes that it is the 60th anniversary since the uprising of young South Africans against the forced racial education system that seeked to use Afrikaans as the main medium of instruction and reflected on the journey of these youth struggles to influence some of the country's tourism pockets of excellence.

South African Youth in Travel, Tourism & Hospitality seeks to mobilise and unite all South African youth involved in the tourism and hospitality sector to achieve the transformation goals, develop and support tourism enterprises and develop skills within the sector. According to Maleka, the organisation will continue to play an important role in raising the shortfalls of the sector in developing the youth.

As part of its deliberations, the organisation has noted the following, according to Maleka:

Performance of the department: The organisation was concerned about the department's inability to spend its allocated budget for the past two financial years, with an estimated R78 million in the past year having to be taken back. Furthermore, following a report by the Auditor General regarding the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) expenditure in terms of the accounting treatment of the EPWP, the organisation has been calling for co-ordinated and ring fenced investment for youth in the sector.
The instability in provincial tourism authorities: The organisation has noted that provincial tourism authorities are not well regulated and monitored by the department and its marketing agency. Without stable and relevant leadership among these authorities, more especially on spending budgets for tourism related activities, the sector runs the danger of not creating more unique offerings to grow the pool of products and services which in turn affects job creation and poverty alleviation.
The nature of the Tourism SETA: Since the restructuring of the SETAs in the country, tourism has never had a stand-alone SETA to assist with quality youth coming out of tertiary institution and receiving sustainable work experience. During this year it will be lobbying the minister to commission a study for a stand-alone SETA to respond to the economic impact and contribution tourism makes to the country.
Maleka says the not–for-profit organisation, which is committed to the ideals of a prosperous and burgeoning tourism environment (focusing on the development of previously disadvantaged individuals and communities) for their broader participation in the economic life cycle of tourism and hospitality, continues to regard itself as having to play an important role in raising the shortfalls of the sector in developing the youth. The organisation realises there are excellent initiatives to develop youth in the sector and 2016 will be the year of many developments.Service tracked Maleka down for exclusive insight on the state of tourism—and the importance of youth development in the sector to boost local economies.

Can you please tell us about the value a well developed youth corps could play in the tourism sector in South Africa?

A well developed youth corps in the tourism & hospitality sector will first and foremost maintain the already high standards as recognised by the World Travel & Tourism Council. Introducing more youth in the tourism sector will inject new blood into the industry. Saying this, the youth has the ability to innovate new offerings and products, which will further enhance the sector.

How would a well developed youth corps in the tourism sector support and underpin local government?

It would definitely play a significantly vital role in supporting local government by identifying the short falls of local government, while at the same time also contributing to sustainable relationships between communities and local government.

Are we seeing enough youth development happening in South Africa to support tourism, and to help boost potential tourism revenue at municipalities?

We're not seeing enough youth development to support tourism, more especially for youth owned products that operate in the rural and township areas, given that tourism operates differently from other well-supported sectors. How do we fix this? We need all tiers of government to fulfil their roles in providing relevant support to boost revenue at municipalities. Examples of this would include the maintenance of roads, basic services such as refuse removal, signage and an ease on restrictions to enable the operation of services and the promotion of unique products from our very own communities.

Can you tell us about the relationship between municipalities and organisations such as yours in tourism—and do you have any ideas to improve it?

At the moment we have institutional relationships with municipalities through the Local Government Tourism framework in which we look at programmes on how best young people can benefit from especially tourism events. To improve this relationship, there needs to be commitment from municipalities on focused budgets that would also ease the burden of support from among others private sector companies.

Looking at provincial tourism authorities, what is the current trend?

Our organisation believes that provincial tourism authorities are not well regulated and monitored. At local government level the picture is even much worse, as most of the tourism projects are not aligned to the National Tourism Sector Strategy. So therefore the lack of monitored provincial tourism authorities affects intergovernmental planning on the side of tourism activities such as bidding for global events, marketing of locally based products and assistance of tourism entrepreneurs.

What is the main thing that youth in tourism can contribute to local authorities and how do you propose this happens?

Firstly, they can help to identify new unique products and service offerings that can contribute to the municipal economies and attract private sector interest. Secondly, they can help to add expertise to current projects relating to tourism expenditure.

You previously said: "Without stable and relevant leadership among these authorities, more especially on spending budgets for tourism related activities, the sector runs the danger of not creating more unique offerings to grow the pool of products and services which in turn affects job creation and poverty alleviation." Can you please expand on this?

Many SMME entrepreneurs depend on government assistance, and therefore the lack of vision and understanding affects tourism spend. For instance, the national department did not use R78 million of its allocation. This figure is similar among other provinces and in local government. Some of this money could have been used to market SMMEs at international tourism events.

How can a new Tourism SETA change the tourism landscape?

A new tourism SETA would be able to be more focused on training and developing tourism students and SMMEs. Tourism has been identified as one of the fastest sectors to create jobs. For this to happen the SETA would be able to have a picture of all high performing tourism students in schools and higher education and place them into the sector. Furthermore private enterprises would be able to invest more and draw closer relationships.

What are the main stumbling blocks when it comes to developing

youth in tourism, especially in local government?

The main stumbling block for developing youth in tourism at a local government level remains that the sector is an unfunded mandate and has no budget.

What can South African municipalities do to actively and sustainably help develop the youth in the tourism sector?

Municipalities can give more assistance, especially to youth owned tourism SMMEs. Municipalities can provide access to government land, help market available products and unlock bi-laws (relating to for example parking spaces and trading hours) that affect economic growth.

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