TALKS TO REBOOT TOURISM BODY: DAILY DISPATCH

DEMOCRATIC Alliance MPL John Cupido has been mandated by the chairperson of the provincial parliament’s portfolio committee on economic development and tourism to meet with stakeholders regarding the re-establishment of Tourism Buffalo City (TBC).

The issue was discussed at the end of a portfolio committee meeting held yesterday at the provincial legislature in Bhisho.

Cupido said the meeting would include representatives from the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Board, Tourism Buffalo City, Buffalo City Metro management, and the chairperson of the portfolio committee, Xola Pakati.

He said he would also like Border-Kei Chamber of Business executive director Les Holbrook to be present as a representative of the business sector.

“We have not set the date for the meeting but I am hoping it will be soon,” he said.

Cupido said the agenda had not been finalised but the meeting would include looking at what had gone wrong, what needed to be done to reestablish the tourism entity and how much was needed financially for it to operate over the next six months.

He added the meeting would also look at the challenges faced by the TBC, what the immediate and longterm solutions were to those problems and how the provincial government could assist.

Asked if there was a possibility the new body would be up and running by the end of the year, Cupido said it depended on what had gone wrong and what needed to be done to make any new body legal.

“But my goal is, at the very least, to have an immediate interim structure created to maintain tourism operations while the legalities and issues are sorted out.”

BCM spokesperson Keith Ngesi again reiterated that the TBC was not owned by BCM. “It is not a municipal entity. It is a Section 21 company and BCM has no control or say on how it is run – all BCM did was to withdraw association,” he said.

“BCM learnt that its association was illegal and therefore sought an amicable way to address that with TBC but, unfortunately, in the initial stages they decided to announce they were closing down. BCM is fully aware of the implications of the abrupt closure, hence it called TBC to engage to avoid the current state of things.”

He said TBC indicated it had commitments and winding down would be detrimental to their operations.

“The metro asked them to quantify and submit those commitments and as usual [we] would attend to them, as is commonly done – they would submit invoices and BCM would pay – even now this arrangement was open to them but they chose to close down,” said Ngesi, adding that BCM had acted because it was aligning itself with the Municipal Finance Management Act.