Tourism industry 'shocked' by SA Tourism CEO's suspension | Fin24
 
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Tourism industry 'shocked' by SA Tourism CEO's suspension

Apr 03 2019 13:10
Carin Smith

The precautionary suspension of SA Tourism (SAT) CEO Sisa Ntshona on Tuesday has left industry experts "shocked", with some saying that the development would cause "turbulence" that the country could ill afford.

On Tuesday, the SAT board said Ntshona had been placed on precautionary suspension while it investigated allegations that it received via its anonymous tip-off reporting mechanism.

It did not say what the allegations were. Ntshona has since told Fin24 that he had not yet been informed of why he had been suspended.

In the interim, Sthembiso Dlamini has been appointed as the acting CEO of SAT.

CEO of the Tourism Business Council of SA (TBCSA), Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa told Fin24 that the suspension came at a very inopportune time in terms of two key industry events, the World Travel Market (WTM) Africa in Cape Town in just a few weeks and Africa's Travel Indaba in Durban in May.

"We have also been working closely with SAT on other global projects relating to perceptions of the country. We are gaining momentum with this. Representing the private sector, the TBCSA is trying to move forward fast with multiple plans to meet President Cyril Ramaphosa's goal of doubling the number of tourists to SA by 2030," said Tshivhengwa, adding that Ntshona's suspension was "regrettable".

"It is a matter of the SAT board and they will use their own corporate governance procedures," said Tshivhengwa. He said he hoped the matter would be resolved soon.

"We deal with a lot of international and local markets and when people hear someone has been suspended, it leads to uncertainties," said Tshivhengwa.

READ: Tourism contributed 1.5 million jobs and R425.8bn in SA - report

Another industry expert, who asked not to be named, said it was crucial for those promoting SA to have a good image.

"With all the different commissions of inquiry happening in South Africa at the moment, we do not want the image of those promoting South Africa to be tarnished too.

"From that point of view, it is concerning that the SAT CEO has been placed on precautionary suspension. This is turbulence the country cannot afford."

Annemarie Ferns, CEO of the official Stellenbosch tourism body Stellenbosch360, told Fin24 on Wednesday that the news of Ntshona's precautionary suspension came as "an absolute surprise and shock".

"Stellenbosch360 has always had an excellent working relationship with Sisa. Whenever we required his assistance with business tourism events and tourism development, he and SAT as a whole were always very keen to assist us," said Ferns. She added that an individual was innocent until proven guilty.

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