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Tuesday, 12 September 2023 21:36

Trevor Noah clears the air on R33 million SA Tourism ad.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Comedian and former US talk show host, Trevor Noah, has denied all claims that government has offered to pay him millions to promote Brand South Africa.

It raised the ire of parliamentarians, who called on the tourism department to halt the venture.

Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille made it clear that the bill would be footed by the Tourism Business Council of SA [TBCSA], and no government funding would be spent on the venture.

De Lille defended the matter in Parliament after the chairperson of the tourism committee, Tandi Mahambehlala, called on the department to halt the plan.

A whistleblower apparently informed the committee that public money was being spent on the venture.

But De Lille said: "I am not mocking anyone. Anything that a whistleblower says must be looked at further or investigated. In this instance, I can tell you that the whistleblower did not give you the full story.

Noah is in South Africa for his comedy tour which will see him perform at the SunBet Arena on Tuesday night. He has already performed in Cape Town and Durban.

The comedian was a guest on Clement Manyathela's mid-morning show on Radio 702.

He said he was approached to be part of the campaign by the private group of hotels, who are desperate to attract tourists to South Africa.

"I said 'ja, I'd like to be the face'. I mean, I helped Swiss tourism, so I was like how can I not help my own country?"

"I'm dealing with a private body of hotels and Airbnbs because you know that coming out of Covid, South Africa has had the lowest rebound rate of any nation in the world that needs tourism as a big part of its GDP," said Noah.

"We cannot afford to not have tourists in this country and so when you look at other countries that have bounced back to 90% of their previous capacity before Covid, South Africa I think we're sitting at like 50 or 60%, that is terrible for us."

He also refuted claims he was being paid R33 million to be part of the tourism campaign.

"First and foremost, can we stop saying R33 million. It's not R33 million, it's not even close to R33 million.

"I do not take money from government, there is no tender. But I do believe we need to push this country, we need to get people visiting it, otherwise we'll go further and further down a spiral where there is no money in this country."