NCTA performing better than most

Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL

DA Provincial Spokesperson on Economic Affairs

The Northern Cape Tourism Authority is one of the best performing entities in the province. From the tabling of its’ recent annual report, it is clear that the entity is reaping the rewards of the Tourism Master Plan of 2006/07 and has in the past financial year hosted the most events ever in the Northern Cape.

We welcome the fact that the entity achieved an unqualified audit with no findings for the 2013/14 year. We trust that this audit outcome will not be a once-off success, but rather the future standard of performance for the entity.

We want to see that the entity resolves the discrepancies between the salary levels of its general managers. All general managers are not paid the same salary, despite performing tasks. While the highest paid general manager receives roughly R800 000 a year, the lowest paid general manager receives slightly above R400 000 per annum. Why this discrepancy? This discrepancy should be addressed to ensure equal pay for equal work.

There is a concern around the duplication of functions in the NCTA. Their unprecedented focus on events support meant that more support was given to the mega-events like the Kimberley Diamond Cup, Bloodhound and the Desert Speedweek. Various departments, chiefly the department of Economic Development as well as Sport, Arts and Culture, also pledge significant financial resources to event support. We must be wary of funding the same project from so many different sources, as the ultimate cost of the event can be devastating on the provincial purse. We need to prioritise tourism activities that can generate a steady income for the province and develop new projects that can ultimately become self-supporting.

As the DA, we are concerned about the effect of the proposed hydropower stations on tourism in the province. During the tabling of the entity’s annual report, the department indicated that the public participation processes have not yet been completed and serious concerns have already been raised on the negative effect of the planned hydropower stations on tourism. One of the hydropower stations will be in the Richtersveld area which focuses on ecotourism, especially canoeing. Another will be built upstream from the Augrabies Falls, which is one of the largest tourist destinations in the province. Tourism in these areas depends on the scenic beauty and natural appeal of the places. It is apparent that the NCTA has not given any consideration to how the planned hydropower stations will impact ecotourism. We urge the NCTA and the public to participate in the processes currently unfolding and to make their views heard on this matter.

The DA further notes that these hydropower stations are not intended to supply energy to the Eskom national grid. Instead, the energy that will be generated from the project is intended for Namibia. South Africa is already facing a serious energy crisis and the DA finds it difficult to understand the need for South Africa to supply energy to Namibia, especially where this will be to the detriment of ecotourism in the province.