13 April 2006
Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk has promised to find ways of enabling small and medium businesses in South Africa’s tourism sector to forge partnerships with bigger companies to share the industry’s benefits.
This comes after some small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) expressed fears that big companies would “have all the benefits to themselves” when it came to the 2010 Fifa Football World Cup.
Tourism Enterprise Programme
Speaking at an SMME Tourism meeting in Soweto this week, Van Schalkwyk said his department would invest R185-million in the Tourism Enterprise Programme – which targets small businesses – over the next three years.
He also told industry representatives that smaller tourism entrepreneurs were placed at the centre of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (Asgi-SA), a set of interventions that will serve as catalysts to accelerate the country’s economic growth to 6% by 2010.
“It is our small and medium-sized businesses that hold the key to translating the potential of tourism into jobs and growth,” Van Schalkwyk said.
He acknowledged that small businesses were faced with challenges such as access to finance and established markets, complex regulations and legal requirements, and a “real need for improved skills and training.”
Freedom Square Hotel
But there was also good news for Soweto tourism operators, Van Schalkwyk said, in the form of the four-star, R20-million Freedom Square Hotel, due to open in Kliptown in October.
The urban experience hotel boasts almost fifty 32m2 rooms and two glass-made boardroom venues.
“We need to diversify our tourism products, offering bed and breakfast experiences, backpacker and accommodation, and high-end hotel options,” the minister said.
The chairperson of the Soweto Tourism Association, Godfrey Mautloa, told BuaNews that local tour guides who were familiar with the township and its people would be ideal to assist tourists in Soweto.
“I believe partnerships with big companies will have a greater impact in the sharing of knowledge and benefits,” he said.