Please boot out this Hotspur marketing idea!

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Image: Tottenham Hotspur/Pixabay/GovernmentZA/compiled by OUTA

Please boot out this Hotspur marketing idea!

We question
the proposal by
South African Tourism to enter into a marketing deal with Tottenham Hotspur to
the value of nearly a billion rand over three years to promote South Africa as
a destination.

We are not
surprised at the public outrage, given South Africa’s financial constraints and
the far more pressing issues that these funds could be spent on, even in the
tourism sector.

“We understand
the need to market the country as a tourism destination. However, a contract
and spend of this size and nature against the backdrop of our country’s
financial constraints and the dire issues that need funding attention, combined
with low public trust in government’s spending decisions, leads us to question
the rationality of this proposal,” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA CEO.

“We believe this could be a
serious wase of money and abuse of taxpayers’ funds, especially when this
decision would consume around 38% of SA Tourism’s marketing budget for the next
three to four years. On top of that, this spend is largely aimed at the UK visitors,
which is only around 25% of South Africa’s inbound tourism market.”

These are
the issues that government needs to address to encourage tourism: high crime
including violent crime, the collapse of water infrastructure including in
cities, loadshedding, the failure of small businesses in the tourism sector….
the list goes on.

OUTA is writing
to Minister of Tourism Lindiwe Sisulu and the acting CEO of SA Tourism,
Mzilikazi Themba Khumalo, asking for detailed information and transparency
regarding the return on investment for this proposed agreement.

According to
SA Tourism’s annual report for 2021/22, the entity received R1.297 billion as a
grant from government, through the Department of Tourism, which was triple the
previous year’s grant of R423 million.

SA Tourism
also receives around R60 million in TOMSA levies (tourism levies charged to
consumers for the use of specific tourism services), which the entity is
supposed to use to promote South Africa, and to our knowledge, the various
roleplayers who represent to tourism industry on the Tourism Business Council,
have not been aware of this planned spend.

On digging
into the affairs of SA Tourism, we also note that the entity’s five executives jointly
cost R10.928 million. This included the departing CEO who was paid
R905 810 for just two months before he left on 31 May 2021, and the
replacement CEO who also soon departed but was paid R2.227 million for eight

understand the need to entice international tourists from overseas destinations
– whom SA Tourism’s report says spend much more per tourist than locals – but
we are concerned that the proposed deal seems contrary to SA Tourism’s stated

“Efforts by the organisation to
support the recovery of the tourism sector are focused on achieving its vision
to position South Africa as an exceptional tourist and business events
destination that offers a value-for-money, quality tourist experience that is
diverse and unique. To become more resilient to potential future disruptions,
South African Tourism is therefore embarking on strategic initiatives to
shift from having a purely destination marketing focus to supporting the
recovery of the tourism sector in a much more robust manner
,” says Advocate
Mojankunyane Gumbi, SA Tourism’s interim chairperson, in the annual report (our

Remember the
flagpole project? The Tottenham Hotspur proposal is another project that shows
how removed government is from the need to spend its scarce revenues more

More information

A soundclip with comment by OUTA CEO Wayne Duvenage is here.

OUTA’s letter to the Minister and CEO is here.

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