Tourism generates about R18-billion a year for the Western Cape economy, with the industry employing close to 200 000 local residents. We know that adventure tourism such as whale watching and shark cage diving form part of those important industry.
Despite that the 5 year permit has expired for the Boat Based Whale Watching and White Shark Cage Diving industries, no clear information is available on the application process for new permit allocations by the National Department of Environmental Affairs. These industries are a crucial part of South Africa’s tourism offering, and provide much needed employment for local coastal communities, particularly in the Western Cape.
In my capacity as Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture, I will ask the Western Cape Minister of Environmental Affairs and Local Government, Anton Bredell, and the Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture, Alan Winde, to put pressure on their national counterparts to speed up the delayed process of issuing new permits.
The Department of Environmental Affairs has appointed a service provider to administer and implement the allocation process, but to date no communication has been received by the industries on how they should apply, despite their current permits expiring this month. In addition to speed up the application process, the National Department must also indicate whether the Boat Based Whale Watching and White Shark Cage Diving industries may operate until such a time as the process has been completed, if it is not completed before the end of June 2016.
With the recent positive developments in the tourism sector, we cannot let red tape by the National Department of Environmental Affairs get in the way of growing the economy and enable people to access much needed jobs in the coastal communities.
Beverley Schäfer, MPP