Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu accuses critics of being unpatriotic

The tourism sector, once a beacon of hope for economic growth and job creation, has been hard hit by COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions.

FILE: Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: @DWS_RSA/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has accused opposition MPs of showing a lack of patriotism and empathy for the people of South Africa.

Sisulu hit back while replying to the debate on her department’s R2.49 billion budget in Parliament on Thursday.

The tourism sector, once a beacon of hope for economic growth and job creation, has been hard hit by COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions.

It wasn’t a great moment for Sisulu, who battled with connectivity problems as she spelled out government’s efforts to revive the shattered tourism sector.

Opposition MPs accused the government of not doing enough to help the industry, which has bled nearly half a million jobs since the first COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020.

“This government still doesn’t understand that it is the private sector that is actually building tourism and bringing visitors to South Africa. This is happening, while the government tinkers on the edges,” said Democratic Alliance MP Manny de Freitas.

Sisulu was unhappy about the criticism.

“We are talking about a very fragile and important sector of our economy. I have listened to some of the inputs from various members and what I find shocking is a lack of patriotism, a lack of empathy for those people who have given of themselves to be able to provide a living for themselves and other people in this particular industry.”