BEE heads for tourism

The Tourism Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) Charter Council announced moves to achieve racial transformation in the tourism and hospitality industry last week, setting deadlines between 2009 and 2015. Environmental Affairs and Tourism minister Marthinus Van Schalkwyk said the government would focus on human resources development within the sector between now and 2009, after which the transformation programme would shift to business ownership by blacks by 2015. “Government is committed to this (empowerment) process but I must say that we are results-oriented,” he said. He said the tourism scorecard, a measure of how much companies have achieved racial transformation and BEE in their operations, would be a key element for the success of the programme, which is part of wider moves to achieve racial transformation in South Africa. Van Schalkwyk said the government would use the scorecard to support its procurement spending and subsidy programmes, with companies that have achieved a greater level of empowerment receiving more government support. “The rating will be used by all spheres of government in determining spending partners and for targeting investment and the development funding through institutions like the Independent Development Corporation and the Development Bank,” he said. The scorecard and the empowerment charter are focused on private companies within the tourism and hospitality industry, as well as some state companies and public enterprises, with labour companies and community co-operative also set to benefit. The minister said they would also be applicable to the entire tourism sector as well as some “sub-sectors” such as accommodation and travel distribution systems regardless of the size of the company. Van Schalkwyk said tourism industry players needed to work with the government and the charter council in order to ensure a “co-owned tourism industry” in the country. He said government would convene meetings with the council quarterly to monitor progress in the implementation of the charter, which has been the cause of widespread concern as the BEE wave has spread across other sectors of South Africa’s economy. Tourism is one of South Africa’s major industries and contributes about 8 percent to the country’s gross domestic product ‘ more than the country’s famed gold output. Chaired by former Public Works Director-General and Executive Director for African Bank Tami Sokutu, the Tourism BEE Charter Council was established in November last year with the main aim of facilitating the implementations of the BEE charter in the tourism industry. Hailed as an initiative that other countries in Southern Africa and the continent as a whole could learn from, the council’s priorities for the next three years include skills development to enhance competitiveness in the sector and enterprise development, which provides basis for preferential procurement. Sokutu said ownership of businesses was an important part of bringing about change in South Africa, and that the “real participation” of indigenous South Africans would go a long way in bringing about the needed transformation. He called on the tourism sector to consider the council as a “partner” in the industry that would help to remove obstacles for change. He said the sector could be even much successful if the charter benefited black people, enhancing economic growth and fostering sustainable development. “We would like to see the charter benefiting black entrepreneurs through addressing business barriers embedded in preferential procurement and enterprise development. “We would like to see the charter benefiting black workers, professional graduates and school leavers through addressing skills barriers embedded in skills development and employment equity,” he said. Protea Hotels Group Corporate Affairs Director, Zwilenkosi Mdletshe however warned against adopting a stance of having token black firms doing business in the industry. “Do not just bring blacks because the charter says so, do this because it is the right thing and critical to the growth of your company,” he said. The BEE Scorecard was launched in July 2004 to accelerate the transformation of the tourism industry, to benefit industry players. The scorecard measures three core components of BEE, which include direct empowerment through ownership and control of enterprises and assets, human resources development and indirect empowerment through preferential procurement and enterprise development.

June 2006
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