Anthony Benadie MPL
Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga
The board of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) must sacrifice their salaries and channel these funds to a direct tourism marketing strategy for Mpumalanga.
During yesterday’s budget presentation to the portfolio committee, it was revealed that two thirds of the MTPA’s R319,4 million budget goes to salaries and stipends. Board members are collectively paid in excess of R2 million (excluding cell phone, travel and catering allowances), employees R212,7 million, and Expanded public Works Programme beneficiaries R1,4 million.
A total of R98 million goes to operating costs, debts and conservation, while only R4,4 million remains for tourism development and marketing. Click here to view the presentation slide.
It is an absolute disgrace that only R4 million is allocated to a tourism programme aimed at one of the world’s top destinations, with not a single cent spent on:
• Tourism marketing strategies;
• Business tourism;
• Trade engagements with international development partners such as BRICS;
• Trade shows, advertising and consumer promotion;
• Domestic workshops;
• Africa trade shows and business events;
• Tourism SMME development and training;
• Product development;
• The Mpumalanga Tourism growth strategy;
• Fence and building maintenance;
• Facilities management; and
• The Loskop Marathon and Sasol Rally.
Mpumalanga risks disappearing off the international tourism radar, with the current marketing and funding approach by the MTPA. The agency must take decisive action if it wants Mpumalanga to stay relevant and live up to its tourism potential.
Considering the MTPA’s financial constraints, sacrificing their salaries is the clearest and strongest message board members can send to illustrate their commitment to tourism development, job creation and economic growth.