About R600m will be invested in the Tourism Incentive Programme during this medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) to support tourism enterprises, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said.
The investment will help tourism enterprises to reach their full potential so they can be in a better position to make sustainable contributions to the growth of the industry and the country’s economy, Minister Hanekom said.
“This will make South Africa a more competitive global destination,” he said.
The Tourism Incentive Programme supports the objectives of South Africa’s overall industrial policy, which includes creating jobs, building the local industrial base and moving towards a green economy.
The programme will start by focusing on creating better access to new markets and customers, encouraging greater participation in the grading system, and retrofitting key tourist attractions with clean and renewable energy sources.
“The Department of Tourism will subsidise a portion of the costs incurred by tourism establishments to participate in trade exhibitions and marketing road shows.
“The subsidy will include a capped reimbursement towards predetermined expenses such as airfare, accommodation and exhibition fees for participation in marketing platforms supported by South African Tourism,” the Department of Tourism said.
The department said owners of establishments, who want to become graded by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, will be supported through a structured system of retroactive discounts or rebates on the assessment fee for grading.
This will make grading more affordable for smaller businesses and incentivise more establishments to become graded.
“A pilot project to retrofit facilities at mainly state-owned destinations and attractions with renewable energy technology will commence this year.
“The learnings from this pilot will guide the design of a programme with specific applications for tourism establishments in the private sector,” the department said.
Parts of the programme will reduce the operating costs of establishments, make them more environmentally sustainable and reduce vulnerability to load shedding.
“With the pressure on the national electricity grid and the critical requirement for energy security in tourism operations, there is an urgent need for the tourism sector to adopt more energy efficient solutions,” Minister Hanekom said.
The pilot project will start with strategic facilities at important World Heritage Sites, National Parks and National Botanical Gardens and some community owned facilities.
The programme will be expanded to include the private sector staring from 2016. It is estimated that the tourism industry supports 1.4 million direct and indirect jobs and contributes 9.5% to the Gross Domestic Product.