In 2017, inbound tourism generated US$9.7 billion for our economy.1 This is around double the figure for the foreign tourism value for Denmark, Argentina and Israel, and way more than Norway, New Zealand and Brazil; but less than a third of that for Australia, and only a sixth of the foreign tourism value to the United Kingdom economy.

No wonder Cape Town features second in the world’s top cities, and was named World Design Capital for 2014. The Blue Train won the ‘luxury train award’ in the 2012 World Travel Awards, and seven South African hotels made it into the top 15 of Africa’s best hotels.2

So we need to protect, preserve and encourage sustainable tourism. Which is what the Tourism Act 2014 aims at. Falling under the authority of the Minister of Tourism, with the Tourism Board in effective control, the statute regulates and rationalises the tourism industry, establishes measures to maintain and enhance standards of facilities and services, it establishes grading and classification schemes, and provides for the registration and regulation of professional tourist guides.

A. Grading system

The Minister can establish a system to grade and classify tourism facilities, services and products. Schemes can also be established according to different sectors of tourism.

  1. Membership of the scheme(s), must be applied for. It is an offence to claim to be a member of a grading and classification scheme if this is not the case.3

  2. It is a crime to use (in relation to any tourism services, facilities or products) any depiction of a star, or stars, or other prescribed insignia, unless you are a member of a scheme.4
  3. It is also a criminal offence to use any indication depicting a number of stars greater than the number you are authorised to depict in terms of the scheme.5

  4. If you provide any information or document (which is required by the Act) which contains an untrue statement, you commit an offence.6

  5. The same applies if you omit to mention a material fact in any such document.7

B. Tourist guides

  1. It is a criminal offence to act as a tourist guide for reward (whether money or anything else) if you are not registered with the respective Provincial Registrar of Tourist Guides.8

  2. It is also an office to do this if your registration has been suspended or withdrawn.9

  3. If you are a registered tourist guide, and:
    • you are sentenced to imprisonment (without the option of a fine) for a criminal conviction;10 or
    • in the case of fraud or any other case involving dishonesty are sentenced to a fine or imprisonment or both; or
    • you lose your SA Citizenship, right of permanent residence, or work permit; or
    • you fail to pass the quality assurance test (held every two years),

    you may not act as a tourist guide for reward. You commit an offence if you do.11

  4. No person (including a close corporation or a company) may employ as a tourist guide any person who is not a registered tourist guide, or one whose registration as a tourist guide has been suspended or withdrawn, or who has become subject to the abovementioned disqualifications. It is an offence to do so.12
  1. Down from US$11.2 billion in 2012. See ‘International tourism, Receipts’. In 2016 the figure was down to US$8.8 billion, but rose in 2017 to US$9.7 billion. 

  2. ‘Accolades for SA Tourism’. 

  3. Section 59(1)(a) read with section 28(3). 

  4. Section 59(1)(b). 

  5. Section 59(1)(c). 

  6. Section 59(1)(d). 

  7. Section 59(1)(e). 

  8. Section 59(1)(f) read with section 57(1). 

  9. Section 59(1)(f) read with section 57(1). 

  10. Other than an offence committed before 27 April 1994 associated with political objectives. See section 50(3)a. 

  11. Section 59(1) read with section 57(2) and 50(3). 

  12. Section 59(1)f read with section 57(3).