The Tourism Complaints Officer, who is tasked with protecting and promoting the tourism industry, has in a letter rejected my official complaint calling for an investigation into the devastating impact the new visa regulations are having on the tourism industry.
The Tourism Complaints Officer should act as a custodian of the tourism industry. Like others tasked with the growth of tourism and jobs, the Tourism Complaints Officer is in clear dereliction of duty by failing to act against these visa regulations. We must ensure that this institution performs the tasks assigned to it proficiently if we are to protect this job-creating industry.
I will therefore today write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism, Beatrice Ngcobo, requesting that she summon the Tourism Complaints Officer, Mirriam Setwaba, to appear before Committee and provide substantive and credible reasons as to why she failed to carry out her primary mandate.
Last month I submitted an official complaint to Ms Setwaba, requesting she address the following with regards to the regulations:
Whether such onerous regulations are international best practice;
Which other countries have instituted similar regulations and what impact has this had;
Whether a proper economic and regulatory impact assessment was undertaken prior to the regulations being drafted; and why there were no formal engagements with any tourism industry associations.
In a curt reply, Ms Setwaba, who was appointed by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom as Tourism Complaints Officer, rejected the complaint, advising that I approach the Department of Home Affairs “who in her view, are best placed to address the concerns and to provide responses on the aspects of the regulations that they administer”.
The question remains – if the office that was appointed to protect the tourism industry is not able to act on its behalf, then who will?
The tourism industry contributes 9% of our GDP and employs 1.5 million South Africans. Its growth and success is vital to growing our economy and creating jobs for the 36% of South Africans who cannot find work. It is in everyone’s interest that this industry is protected from overbroad and untested job-killing visa regulations.
The DA will continue to do all possible to ensure those responsible for standing up for the industry do and are not allowed to neglect their mandate.
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