Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Imported Scarfs Spoil Minister’s Jovial Mood

TOURISM Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk could not hide his embarrassment after he was alerted that a company his department hired to produce scarfs locally decided to import them from China.

The revelation at Emperors Palace Hotel and Casino in Kempton Park, on the East Rand on Friday, spoiled Van Schalkwyk’s jovial mood during the launch of an ambitious initiative to use tourism as a vehicle to fight unemployment by promoting buying of local goods.

A delegate asked Van Schalkwyk to explain his emphasis on encouraging the use of local products when his department offered scarfs bearing a “Made in China” label.

The department launched a national tourism sector strategy for public comment in which it is proposing a five-year plan to grow tourism. The strategy, which Van Schalkwyk said would include other relevant government departments, private sector and labour , would look into improving tourism by encouraging South Africans to explore their own country.

“People should not travel only for family related engagements,” he said.

Director of policy review at the department, Paki Mathebula said the company, which was appointed to manufacture 500 national flag scarfs, would not face any action .

“It was a small thing in which we needed to get somebody to deliver the scarfs. It cost less than R12000,” said Mathebula.

“There was not even a document with specifications of what we needed.

“We had intended that the scarfs would have been made locally, so the project benefited local people.”

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