The former Minister of Tourism, Martinus Van Schalkwyk, spent a total of R1,946,788.00 on international flights between April 2013 and his exit from cabinet following the national elections, a reply to DA parliamentary question has revealed.
In total, Mr Van Schalkwyk went overseas at the state’s expense on 20 different occasions. On eight of these visits he spent more than R100, 000 on flights, and on three such occasions, more than R200, 000.
In the reply to questions asked about these excessive expenses, the Department of Tourism has attempted to justify it by stating that international travel forms part of its key mandate of developing the tourism industry in South Africa. This is indeed the case.
However, in this week’s portfolio committee meeting, when questioning to what extent the numerous MOU’s with other countries is benefiting our tourism market, I was unable to get any concrete details.
These MOU’s, which are signed at great expense – and clearly after much travel – must be properly monitored for their value and ensure that they are indeed being implemented to the benefit of our tourism industry.
To this extent, I will ask that the Portfolio Committee request a detailed report from the Department on the benefit of each visit, together with agreements made on each such occasion, to our Tourism industry.
The DA has very clear policy proposals on how we can boost tourism, and create jobs.
We would, amongst other things:
Maintain well-resourced tourism information centres in strategic locations in the country and abroad
Establish offices in key and selected source markets to promote the South African tourism experience and
Work with tourism authorities in the region to package and market sub-Saharan Africa as a regional tourism destination.
It is vital that we spend our resources carefully, and when some countries do not even have a local SA tourism office, it must bring into question whether we are indeed getting bang for our buck.
James Vos, Shadow Minister of Tourism
Source : Democratic Alliance