Patricia de Lille, minister of tourism, admitted in response to parliamentary questions by the DA that the South African Tourism Board (SAT) has spent an astronomical R2 509 653.64 on compensation, travel and accommodation since 2020.
“It is clear that the board is milking the system. This amount is not a reflection of the growth in tourism figures over the same period,” says Manny de Freitas, the DA’s spokesperson on tourism.
Although only 10 of the council’s 57 meetings required presence in person, R769 548.47 was nevertheless spent on travel and accommodation costs for council members.
“It is approximately R77 000 per meeting for travel and accommodation,” says De Freitas.
Councilors’ compensation over the same period cost taxpayers more than R1.6 million.
“More than R2.5 million must be justified, the tourism board must indicate how these expensive meetings directly benefit the tourism sector and tourism.”
Official tourism statistics released last month confirm that the tourism employment share has decreased from 4.8% in 2019 to 3.1% in 2020.
The direct contribution of tourism to the gross domestic product (GDP) decreased from around R208 316 million (3.7%) in 2019 to R123 616 million (2.2%) in 2020, a decrease of 40.7%.
Although statistics have improved since the Covid-19 pandemic, tourism figures are still far from where they should be.
“This makes the reckless spending by members of the SAT board even more disturbing,” says De Freitas.
“Additional questions will be put to the minister, especially about the expensive meetings held by the SAT board.”
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