An Mpumalanga tourism MEC has put his foot in his mouth after suggesting that in order to boost tourism in the province after a year in which travel has been heavily restricted, people should consider adding a few more lovers to their roster.
The province – home to the Kruger National Park and many other iconic South African tourism destinations – has been hit hard by COVID-19’s necessitation of hard lockdowns, and is on a mission to return tourism to where it needs to be.
MPUMALANGA MEC PUTS HIS FOOT IN HIS MOUTH
Speaking at the Mpumalanga Cultural Xperience event at the Mbombela Botanical Gardens, MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, Pat Ngomane, said that the more partners you’re able to accrue, the more time you’re likely to spend visiting some of the provinces most popular tourist destinations.
It’s just simple maths.
“It’s something where everyone [not only international tourists] can visit these destinations,” he said. Even your boyfriends visit them. If you have one try to have two visits… you’re promoting domestic tourism.”
As the crowd began to jeer Ngomane’s cheeky suggestion, he quickly acted to clarify that he only meant to say that your partner might have a bunch of friends who could also join.
“I didn’t mean that you must have multiple partners, but have one partner and more friends so that you can visit them because by doing that you will be promoting domestic tourism.”
“I’m not talking about cheating, I have 10 friends and one wife!”
NGOBANE POOLS FUNDING FOR TOURISM FROM OTHER DEPARTMENTS
Meanwhile, Ngomane has defended his decision to reduce budget allocations to certain departments such as education, health, safety and security, and public works, roads and transport.
Ngomane delivered his adjustment budget speech last week, and announced that the department of tourism received an increased budget allocation at the expense of funding to others.
Speaking to Mpumalanga News on Saturday at the Kruger National Park, he said that the tourism sector is a driving force behind Mpumalanga’s economy.
“It has been widely proven that tourism plays a huge role in growing the economy and the rationale behind the increment has been motivated by this,” he said.
“We believe that focusing our energy towards growing our tourism sector will have fruitful results for us at the end, but without us compromising the functions of the other departments.”
R10 MILLION HEADING TO SMMES
He said that there is “great concern” over tourism in the province after a year in which travel has been greatly restricted, and said that urgent intervention is required.
“We have set aside R10 million that will go towards SMMEs that are working closely with the tourism sector. We are aware that this is not enough, but it is the beginning and hopefully we will increase this relief grant when the new financial year kicks in,” he said.