Minister Des van Rooyen hails Tourism a catalyst for growth and development at the local sphere
Local government is a sphere that is closest to communities and important for their daily survival. While citizens’ expectations of local government often centre on the delivery of basic services, there are other areas that are increasingly important and at the centre development at this important sphere, like the Local Economic Development (LED).
The Local Government Tourism Conference that was held today (03 April 2017) in Johannesburg, Emperors Palace, under the theme, “tourism planning is everybody’s business”, provided a platform for government and various stakeholders to meet and plan. All sectors noted that Tourism planning is complex and although strides have been made to incorporate tourism in local government planning through Integrated Development Plans (IDP), there is always room for improved planning, especially at local government level.
According to Minister Des van Rooyen, Tourism is one of those important sectors in the country that can assist to stimulate LED. Municipalities should play a connector role in respect of LED, drawing upon resources locked in a range of different government support instruments into their localities. LED is based on the principle that wealth in local communities is created not by government but by private enterprise which depends on favourable local business conditions to create prosperity.
Minister emphasized Pro-poor tourism which empowers communities and ensure that they are able to reap the economic spin-offs and benefits from tourism in a fair and sustainable manner. Much has been written and demonstrated about the ability and potential of this sector to be a catalyst for growth and development, thus assisting with the creation of jobs and boosting economies.
Over the past two years, the local government sector has looked at the two questions: “what are the most basic, non-negotiable amenities we should be delivering to our communities? And, at the most elementary level, what is it going to take to ensure that we fulfil this role? Minister van Rooyen stressed that this questions are the core focus of our work in local government through the Back to Basics Programme. The objective of this approach is to ensure a well-functioning and efficient local government system in support of the national developmental agenda and has direct benefits for the tourism sector.
Tourism has indeed emerged as a significant driver of local economies, especially in small towns and rural areas. The Minister urged Municipalities to focus their energies, efforts and resources to ensure that they become sustainable tourist attractions. This is because Tourism is acknowledged as a strong driver for local economic development. Municipalities should play a critical role to expand in local communities, as well as design credible tourism sector plans, marketing, the provision of support infrastructure, and the management of tourism growth.
Tourism is ‘consumed’ at the point of production, it provides opportunities for the development of small local businesses and informal economic activities in such areas as tour guides, arts and craft, and small taxi operators, to name but a few.
As part of Government’s efforts to strengthen the system of local government and ensure that it delivers as per its mandate, His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma will be convening the 3rd Presidential Local Government Summit on the 6 and 7 April 2017, under the theme, “Managing Municipal Spaces for Radical Social and Economic Transformation”. The Minister extended an invite to delegates and urged those invited to register urgently for the summit so as to make their contribution on the role of tourism sector in achieving radical social and economic transformation.
Issued by: Department of Cooperative Governance