About the Gauteng Tourism Authority
The early to mid-1990s witnessed the stepping up of South Africa’s deliberate effort to formalise tourism as an industry, underscored by the establishment of the National Tourism Act (No. 72 of 1993). Since the advent of this Act, a few more tourism legislative developments occurred both at national level and across the country, spurred on by the dawn of a new political dispensation in 1994 which opened South Africa to the world.
As tourism growth and development in country gained momentum, sustainability of industry took centre stage, ultimately giving birth to the responsible, tourism-oriented National White Paper on the Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa (1996) which proclaimed, inter alia, that tourism should be government-led, private sector-driven and community-based.
In its quest to leverage on national tourism growth and development to drive economic growth in the province, the Gauteng Provincial Government – through the Department of Finance and Economic Affairs (now the Department of Economic Development) – established the Gauteng Tourism Authority in 1998 as a specialist agency responsible for tourism promotion. The Authority was founded on the Gauteng Tourism Act, No. 18 of 1998 whose chief purpose was:
To provide for sustainable development and improvement of tourism in Gauteng; to establish Gauteng Tourism Authority; to confer powers and functions and impose duties upon the Authority; to establish a tourism development fund; to establish specific mechanisms in order to provide sustainable tourism revenue for tourism development and promotion; to provide for the registration, grading and classification of hotels; to provide for the registration of restaurants, other accommodation establishments, conference centres and tourist amenities; to provide for the licensing of tour operators, tour guides and couriers; to provide for the certification and accreditation of training providers in the tourism industry; to provide for the imposition and collection of levies in respect of hotels and other accommodation establishments, restaurants and designated tourist amenities; and to provide for matters incidental thereto.
The 1998 Act was subsequently repealed by the Gauteng Tourism Act, No. 10 of 2001 which somewhat scaled down the mandate of the Authority whilst it maintained the central role of the agency as follows:
To provide for the promotion and sustainable development of tourism in Gauteng; to establish the Gauteng Tourism Authority; to confer powers and functions and impose duties upon the Authority; to establish the Tourism Advisory Committee; to confer powers and functions and impose duties upon the Committee; to establish a tourism development fund; to provide for registration of tourist guides, tour operators, couriers, accredited training providers in the tourism industry, hotels, conference centres; restaurants, designated tourist amenities and other accommodation establishments and possible future functions relating to these categories; and to provide for matters incidental thereto.
The 2007 amendment of the 2001 Act ushered in the recognition of the non-executive Board of Directors which hitherto was only interim, having been established earlier to replace the Tourism Advisory Committee and act as an accounting authority.
The Gauteng Tourism Authority broadly carries a dual mandate: on the one hand, to position Gauteng as a globally desirable destination through its marketing and promotional efforts and on the other, to manage Gauteng as a globally competitive destination through ensuring that it is a value-for-money destination.
Tourism as an economic sector
The growth of tourism nationally and provincially as an agent for economic growth and development has resulted in the role of the Gauteng Tourism Authority also growing exponentially in a bid to create sustainable job and entrepreneurial opportunities. This, in turn, has seen the effort to formalise tourism as an economic sector with its specific economic contribution.
To this end, the GTA is chief among the industries and economic sectors identified to drive economic growth and creation of decent work through the Gauteng Employment Growth and Development Strategy (GEGDS) and the National Growth Path (NGP), both of which have job creation as their centrepiece.
The Authority also works in close collaboration with regional and local government structures to advance the notion of positioning Gauteng as a global city region whilst seeking to achieve a joined-up government approach to harmonise tourism promotion and management in the province. It also maintains strong ties with SA Tourism, which leads the international marketing drive and generally aligns itself to the national tourism agenda.
The GTA’s greatest challenge is to sustain the province’s status as a leading provincial destination for international tourists whilst cooperating with other provinces; particularly the ones with which it shares common borders, and to assist with the economic viability of these provinces to reduce the degree of migration to Gauteng.