A small number of Tour Guides, operating principally in the Battlefields Region of KwaZulu-Natal, persistently complain at being expected to pay entry fees at sites administered by Amafa /Heritage KwaZulu Natal. Their argument being that since they bring Tourists to the sites, they are providing Amafa / Heritage KZN with an income.
This argument may well be true for commercial operations such as bed and breakfast establishments and lodges. These all generate profit for their owners. It is not surprising therefore that they waive fees or pay commissions in order to entice Tour Guides to utilize their establishments.
This is not the case at the Historic sites at which Amafa/Heritage KZN charges an entry fee. At all of these sites entry fees together with other income generated from the sale of curios etc falls far short of the actual cost of administering the sites.
Should the entry fees be determined so as to recover costs and generate a profit. A good many South Africans would not be able to visit the sites. It is for this reason that entry fees are kept low. This, in effect, means that visits to these sites are effectively subsidized by the state.
Even these low entry fees act as a barrier to some South Africans and additional concessions have been granted to provide these persons with opportunities to visit the sites. For example, a fee of only R1 per person is changed for bona-fide approved educational groups. Also all entry fees are waived on World Museum Day (18th May ) and Heritage day (25th September).
Amafa/Heritage KZN is a Public Entity and as such is accountable to the Provincial Legislature and must comply with the requirements of the Public Finance Management Act. All Public Entities are expected to reduce, as far as possible, their dependence on Government grants. This, amongst other things, means maximized income derived from entry fees.
It is not difficult to justify keeping fees at a reasonably low level and to provide concessions for poor South Africans, in order that no Citizen is denied access to their Heritage. There is, however, no justification for exempting Tour Guides from paying entry fees. They, after all, derive an income from guiding Tourists over the sites and utilize the facilities provided there. The principle of “User Pays” is universally practiced. Some Guides in the Battlefields Region change up to R650 per person per day for their services. Should they visit two Amafa sites in a day they would pay only R30 for their own entry to the sites
In many other parts of the world Tour Guides are expected to pay annual licence fees for the priviledge of operating their businesses on National Heritage Sites. These fees are far in excess of what they would pay in entrance fees.
Fortunately most Tour Guides are more than willing to make their contribution to the conservation of our Province Heritage Sites by paying their entry fees.