Responding to the 2017 Budget Speech by Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, the CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), Mmatšatši Ramawela said that the message of travel and tourism as a key economic driver is finally filtering through government speeches and plans.

 381451“Although not yet regarded as an economic sector by the Department of Trade and Industry which is something we hope will change, the Budget Speech’s strong mention of travel and tourism is a major vote of confidence for the sector,” Ramawela said.

In his Speech, delivered on Wednesday, 22 February 2017, Minister Gordhan made mention of the government’s plans to provide focused support on labour-intensive sectors including tourism-related services. He announced the allocation of an additional R494 million for tourism promotion as one of the short-term measures to boost investment. This is in addition to the 2016/17 budget allocation to the National Tourism Department of just over R2 billion. He further referred to local initiatives in the tourism and hospitality industry being key to economic progress, quoting a budget tip from Lisa Sheard of the Kruger Lowveld Tourism Association.

Within the constraints of the local and broader global economy, TBCSA agrees with the broad view of the business community that the Finance Minister did not have much room to maneuver but nonetheless delivered an overall balanced budget.