The South Africa Tourism Relief Fund has offered help to some hard-hit companies, particularly SMEs, in the present global meltdown occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic.
This comes as a welcome development as other key tourism countries are yet to do same in the face of the challenge.
Eligible businesses have been encouraged by the South Africa Department of Tourism to apply for the COVID-19 Tourism Relief between April 7 to May 30, 2020 to benefit from the largesse.
Established as an intervention to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector, the R200 million Tourism Relief Fund provides once-off capped grant assistance to Small Micro and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMMEs) to ensure sustainability during and post the implementation of government measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in South Africa.
“We acknowledge the difficulties experienced by businesses during this time, hence the need to support the industry and communities to cope with the negative effects of this pandemic,” said Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.
“Our tourism industry is comprised of mainly SMMEs, most of which are survivalists in nature, with limited access to funding from commercial institutions. We hope the support offered through the Tourism Relief Fund will assure the continued survival of SMMEs beyond the COVID–19 pandemic.”
Capped at R50 000 per entity, the grant funding can be utilised to subsidise expenses towards fixed costs, operational costs, supplies and other pressure cost items. Preference will be given to enterprises with the highest score in terms of the criteria, which serve as a pre-qualification. A panel of experts will conduct the final evaluation in terms of functionality.
Guided by the Tourism Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Codes of Good Practices approved by the Minister of Trade and Industries in 2015 (in line with the B-BBEE Amendment Act No. 46 of 2013), the Tourism Relief Fund is administered in line with the objectives of Economic Transformation, and our vision to ensure sustainable and inclusive tourism development.
The disbursement of funds will ensure equitable spatial distribution in terms of provinces.
Categories eligible to apply for the Tourism Relief Fund include the following:
Accommodation establishments: Hotels; Resort properties; Bed and Breakfast (B&B’s); Guest houses; Lodges and Backpackers.
Hospitality and related services: Restaurants (not attached to hotels); Conference venues (not attached to hotels), Professional catering; and Attractions
Travel and related services: Tour operators; Travel agents; Tourist guiding; Car rental companies; and Coach Operators.
Notably have none of the other Africa countries where tourism is a key economic activity rolled out similar measures as yet, leaving their tourism stakeholders in limbo. Calls have promptly emerged from across the continent to give similar relief to them too but with budgets already overstretched before the COVID-19 outbreak is there little hope that such direct financial relief will be forthcoming anytime soon.