Tourism minister announces measures to mitigate impact of COVID-19

Minister Kubayi-Ngubane started by saying that the tourism sector suffered a setback since lockdown was implemented two months ago, and that “many businesses in the sector are fighting for survival”.

She added that if the sector doesn’t “come into operation by September 2020”, up to 600 000 jobs could be at risk.

“This reality led to both government and private sector working together to be both innovative and putting protocol guidelines to get the sector back into operation”.

Tourism relate relief measures

The measures presented by Minister Kubayi-Ngubane was put in place to “ensure that SMMEs in the tourism sector survive the crisis,” and includes the Tourism Relief Fund.

The fund, which closes on 31 May 2020, received more than 6 000 applications for the R50 000 grant assistance. The breakdown of applications received is as follows:

  • Accommodation-related service: 2 495
  • Hospitality-related services: 1 825
  • Travel-related services: 1 780
  • Others: 662

The Tourism Relief Fund provides a once-off capped grant of R50 000 per entity, which could be used towards fixed costs, operational costs, and “other pressure-cost items”.

Technical glitches

Unfortunately, many applicants could not apply for the fund through its online portal, citing difficulty to upload documents, or being promoted to submit documents which were already on the system.

Minister Kubayi-Ngubane said the Tourism Relief Fund will be accepting email submissions as well, in lieu of the online system’s technical difficulties. She assured listeners:

“I am told that so far, the calls the team has made to some of the SMMEs have yielded positive results and these SMMEs will be receiving the much-needed relief”.

Tour guide assistance

The minister acknowledged that most tour guards are freelancers and independent contractors and that the Tourism Relief Fund “did not cover them”.

This followed after tour brought it to her attention that the various governmental relief schemes had neglected to provide for them. She explained:

“I went back to the department and had a discussion about what can be done to assist this subsector. As you are aware, the tour guiding subsector is dominated by freelancers and independent contractors with no job security, and for this reason, the government relief schemes including the tourism relief fund did not cover them”.

The tourism department have since set aside R30 million to provide relief to freelance tourism guides. It will provide financial relief “over a period of two to three months”.

The Tourist Guide relief scheme will only benefit tour guides who are registered in terms of the Tourism Act, as well as freelancers and independent contractors not employed full time by business in the tourism sector.

Also read – Hunting and game drives allowed as tourism sector opens up at level 3

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