HERALDLIVE / 07 JUNE 2019 - 11.36 / STAFF REPORTER
Indaba focuses on accommodation trends and concerns
If the fish farm proposed for the Bay will negatively affect tourism, the municipality will strongly oppose it.
Bernhard Meyer, of the Tourism Incentive Programme, left, with economic development political head Queenie Pink, economic development executive director Anele Qaba and Port Elizabeth Metro Bed and Breakfast Association chair Shena Wilmot
This was said by Nelson Mandela Bay economic development, tourism and agriculture executive director Anele Qaba at a Bay tourism indaba focusing on accommodation.
Qaba said he was aware of the objections by those in the tourism industry when it came to the fish farm proposal.“The city is walking this journey with the industry to ensure our beaches are protected, to ensure that there is no damage caused [to] our beaches that will then affect the tourism industry,”
Qaba said.Concerns had been raised that the Algoa Bay fish farm – with the site 1 proposal just 2km off the Port Elizabeth beachfront – would pollute underwater reefs, jeopardise fish stocks and threaten the Bay’s critically endangered African penguins and other wildlife.
In addition to the fish farm concerns, Qaba said that accommodation was key to tourism, and service providers had raised concerns around the impact Airbnbs were having on formal accommodation.
The municipality was working on a policy to regulate the lucrative informal accommodation industry, he said.
Airbnbs raked in more than R6m over the December period and there was a 64.8% increase in the number of people booking into Airbnbs, while the formal accommodation industry had an increase of only 0.08%.
This was revealed through a tourism impact period report presented by Qaba at an economic development and tourism and agriculture committee meeting earlier in 2019.“We are clear on this and we are not backing down on it.
“As the city, we need to protect the formal tourism industry and therefore any form of informal tourism business will be dealt with,” Qaba said.
The indaba was held in partnership with the Port Elizabeth Metro Bed and Breakfast Association – and featured a national tourism department speaker as well as economic development political head Queenie Pink.
Also speaking on regulating Airbnbs, Pink said the formal accommodation sector contributed to the development and growth of the economy and the municipality needed to acknowledge the contribution business owners made through rates, taxes and job creation.
Concerns about tourist safety were also raised, but Qaba said a plan was in the pipeline to look at safety not only on the beachfront but everywhere in the metro.
Bernhard Meyer, of the Tourism Incentive Programme (TIP), which helps aspiring service providers access the marblack-owned, kets by supporting them through funding, said the tourism department had partnered with the National Empowerment Fund to introduce a tourism transformation fund that supported black investors and communities to develop and expand products.
“Transformation is happening, but at a slow pace.“The fund drives transformation and [is a catalyst for] the rise of a new generation of youth and women tourism products.
“The grant component will be used to reduce the debt burden of the tourism enterprise by reducing the finance and equity contributions to the NEF,” Meyer said.
The programme also aims to contribute towards achieving the objectives of the National Development Plan, the National Tourism Sector Strategy and other government policy documents.
One of the focus areas of the TIP is to improve international market access for tourism enterprises under the International Market Access Support Programme to access new and existing markets through international trade platforms.
The department was encouraging owners to move to cleaner and renewable energy sources and the efficient use of water through the green tourism incentive programme.
Qaba said tourists cared about the environment and formal accommodation had to keep up with trends and be environmentally aware.Applications for funding are open until June 30.