|RETREAT ON TOURISM BILL 2010|
Date: 8 Feb 11
Ministry of Tourism organized a retreat for stakeholders in the tourism sector to deliberate on the Tourism Bill and agree on the final document. The Tourism Bill has gone through the 1st reading in Parliament and is now at the committee stage.
In attendance at the retreat were members of the Parliamentary committee on Finance, Planning, Trade and Tourism.
At the deliberations, the private sector raised concerns with certain provisions in the Bill, namely:
1. There should be a definition of what a National Tourism Umbrella Association is under the bill, as the bill allocates it two seats on most boards.
2. Private sector is concerned that the Tourism Fund will be stretched too thin with all the bodies it has to fund and this will ultimately impact on the levies charged to the industry. (We were assured that the levy will just offer subventions and the bodies indicated will still receive funding from the exchequer.)
3. There was no definition of what tourist service vehicles were under the bill (It was later agreed that this should be included)
4. The alcohol law and its implementation is a major concern for the sector especially at the coast.
Some minor changes were effected to align the Bill with the provisions of the new constitution.
The members of the Parliamentary Committee raised their concern with certain areas of the Bill, i.e. that the bill should harmonise the many laws that govern the tourism sector and tourism businesses, but this is not adequately addressed in the bill; there are too many institutions created in the Bill some of which should be merged, for instance, was it necessary to form the tourism protection service, or strengthen the Tourist Police Unit and have the coordination of the unit under the Ministry of Tourism; the board of directors for associations is left open for the Minister to nominate at will but it should reflect open competition and transparent interview process in the spirit of the new constitution.
The private sector resolved to present a memorandum to the Parliamentary Committee, with proposed solutions, to the issues it raised at the plenary that were not addressed to its satisfaction.
The Ministry of Tourism will now come up with a final draft of the Bill that will incorporate the minor changes agreed on at the retreat. The Ministry will also need to resolve in the final draft the concerns raised by the Parliamentary Committee so that the Bill may pass the committee stage and proceed to the second reading in Parliament.